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FOUNDATIONS OF NATIONAL LEADERSHIP 
THE NATIONAL MIND 

English French German 

AMERICAN EDUCATION SERIES 
GEORGE DRAYTON STRAYER, GENERAL EDITOR 



FOUNDATIONS OF NATIONAL LEADERSHIP 



THE NATIONAL MIND 

English - French German 

MICHAEL DEMIASHKEVICH 

GRADUATE OF THE IMPERIAL HISTORICO-PHILOLOGICAL INSTITUTE 

(PETROCRAD) 

Offider d'Aeadimie 

PROFESSOR AT GEORGE PEABODY COLLEGE 



AMERICAN. BOOK COMPANY 



NEW YORK CINCINNATI CHICAGO BOSTOK ATLANTA DALLAS SAN FRANCISCO 



, isv 
HOOK. 



TICK rC A.T IO>; AX- 
, JE>. X 



TO KNOW THYSELF, COMPARE THYSELF TO OTHERS 

Goethe: Torquato Tasso 
(Antonio, v, 5) 



Chapter I 



THE GOOD MAN 



THE TANGIBLE ENGLISHMAN 

ACCORDING to Emerson, a tourist landing at Liverpool should 
seek to solve two problems : Why is England what it is ? What 
are the elements of that power which accounts for the high 
position of England in the world? l As to the first of these 
problems, we are unable to offer a solution. We do not know 
to what degree dissimilarities among nations regarding such 
matters as customs, crafts, the fine arts, and national ideals are 
due to race, soil, and historical circumstances; whether such 
differences should be "traced to pedigree or climate, to geo- 
graphical sites or to systems of government." 2 Neither did we 
discover one who fully answered the query implied in this 
statement of Tacitus: "Who were the original inhabitants of 
Britain, whether they were indigenous or foreign, is, as usual 
among barbarians, 'little known." 8 With relation to subse- 
quent ethnographic developments in the British Isles, we shall 
limit ourselves, in all humility, to repeating Daniel Defoe's 
reflection: 

"Thus from a mixture of all kinds began 
That heterogeneous thing, an Englishman." * 

1 English Traits, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1888, p. 38. 

2 Dixon, W. M., The Englishman, New York, Longmans, Green & Co., 

* Tacitus, Agricola, Ch, n. * The True-Born Englishman, I, i, p. 279. 

3 



4 THE ENGLISH MIND 

We shall think of the English, and later of the French and 
the Germans, as ethnic-psychological groups; that is, groups 
the members of which have in common certain basic mental 
traits, such as beliefs, aspirations, tastes, aversions, qualities, and 
defects. We agree with Julian S, Huxley and A, S. Haddon 
in their conclusion relative to the biological background of 
western nations: 

"In most cases it is impossible to speak of the existing 
population of any region as belonging to a definite 'race,* 
since as a result of migration and crossing it includes many 
types and their various combinations. For existing popu- 
lations the word race should be banished, and the descrip- 
tive and noncommittal term ethnic group should be sub- 
stituted " x 

Many may question the possibility of a satisfactory solution 
even of the second and more limited problem formulated by 
Emerson. Our humble reply to such a challenge is the entire 
treatise on English national psychology which follows. Yet, to 
avoid the charge of evasiveness, we shall open our study with 
a discussion, however brief and sketchy, of the general problem 
of whether it is possible seriously to contend that an objective, 
tangible picture of a nation's collective character can be drawn. 
This question has been frequently raised, and we must face it 
at the very beginning and throughout the course of our study. 

To paraphrase the philosopher, all that exists is knowable; 
even the innermost secrets of the individual's complex inner 
life can be charted by psychologists who are gifted with the 
intuitive genius of a Dostoevsky. It seems but right to point 
out, however, that it is much easier to know a nation than to 

1 We Europeans: A Survey of 'Racial' Problems, New York, Harper 8c 
Brothers, 1935, p. 268, 



THE GOOD MAN 5 

know an individual, even though a nation's spokesmen, on 
whom we must depend in the last analysis for the revelation of 
national psychology, frequently lend themselves to political 
coquetry and to elaborate stage-play at home and abroad. 

Even when such a scholar as Professor Dixon warns us that 
"the Englishman remains, as he has always been, a somewhat 
incomprehensible being," x we refuse to be discouraged in our 
effort to understand the English national character or men- 
tality. We do not deny the difficulty of our investigation, but 
we take comfort from the fact that Professor Dixon's diffidence 
in this field has not prevented him from writing a valuable 
study on English national character. 

It is a great pity that successful statesmen and politicians 
have refrained from summing up for posterity their intimate 
thoughts concerning the virtues and defects of the peoples 
whom they ruled. Their personal success testifies that they 
well understood those qualities; it proves, consequently, the 
possibility of an adequate comprehension of national psychol- 
ogy. But even in the absence of such ethnological memoirs 
what a priceless source of information and invaluable help in 
training for leadership these would be! it is imperative and, 
happily, it is possible for students of comparative education, 
comparative literature, and comparative politics to gather from 
various sources a wide range of evidence regarding the inti- 
mate, as well as the more tangible, collective characteristics of 
nations. 

To turn from these historical and philosophical generalities 
to our collective Englishman and his mentality, what Arnold 
said of him is, of course, true: "There is, in the Englishman, 
a certain admixture and strife of elements." The same is true, 
however, of other nationals. It is true also that the term "Eng- 

1 Dixon, W. M., op, cit., p. 33. 



THE ENGLISH MIND 

lishman," when it is taken to designate the English national 
character, does not admit of short definition* Yet it permits 
a cataloguing of the more typical, that is the more persistent, 
historical characteristics found among the English people of all 
classes and conditions from "the rich man in his castle" to "the 
poor man at his gate." From these characteristics a sort of 
collective image can be made, as from thousands of super- 
imposed likenesses, a composite photograph can be produced 
from which the purely personal, individual variants are elimi- 
nated. 1 The norm or collective type which distinguishes the 
English from other national groups can thus be attained. 

We shall seek, then, to catch a composite picture of the 
English nation, which may show the characteristic English 
attitudes toward the fundamental problems of life, individual 
and social, material and spiritual. This, if properly taken, 
will present a tangible image of the collective Englishman. 
He is not, any more than any other collective individual, in- 
evitably destined to remain a hypothetical figure. In order 
that his true face may be drawn, however, it is necessary to 
employ a broad brush and to proceed carefully, with earnest 
consideration of the points of orientation political, economic, 
literary, artistic, and philosophical to be found in the records 
of national life. 

To be sure, there are all sorts of individual Englishmen. 
There are English expatriates who despise all that is English; 
there are Englishmen who embrace Mormonism in Utah and 
Englishmen who hide their national identity under the rob- 
ings of Buddhist priests. But such Englishmen are signifi- 
cantly few. Similar individual variations from the national 
type are to be found in all nationalities, and their occurrence 

1 Cf. Masterman, C. F. G., The Condition of England, London, Mcthuen 
& Co., 1909, p, 10. 



THE GOOD MAN 7 

should not discourage the student of comparative national 
psychology or vitiate his vision of the type that occurs, his- 
torically, with the highest degree of frequency, in other words, 
the average or general type. 

"All the Herries I have met, whether in London or 
here, have something in common although they are all so 
different. What it is I cannot say. It is as though, inside 
the family, they are all against one another, but that 
against the outside world they are all united. . . ." 1 

Hugh Walpole's Herries family, whose genealogy is traced 
back to 1600, has the edge, as a sociological document, even 
on the Forsytes, in that the Herries are country stock, with 
roots still strong in the soil. As we read in a review in The 
Times Literary Supplement, March 20, 1930, "The Herries 
family is John Bull." The reviewer aptly chose the following 
quotation to illustrate his assertion: 

"At the moment of birth young Herries know pre- 
cisely the sensible thing to do how to watch and wait 
and avoid all excitement ... to believe only what they 
can see, to handle only what they can in reality touch. 
. . . They have made England what it is. . . ." 

From time to time an exceptional Herries comes into the 
world, a Herries who does not fit in the series, so to speak, who 
does not know what he wants; but such exceptions are rare. 2 

National traits of a people certainly undergo distinct modi- 
fications in the course of time, but the fundamental type is 
strangely persistent. In the composite photograph, dim with 

1 From The Portress, by Hugh Walpole, copyright 1932 by Doubleday, 
Doran and Company, Inc., New York, p. 272. 

2 Cf. Walpole, K, "Et la Sainte lui sourit," Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 
avril 1937, p. 849. 



8 THE ENGLISH MIND 

age, of the English of the seventeenth century, for example, 
one can recognize, without unduly stretching one's imagina- 
tion, the English of our own day. The contours of national 
mentalities are perhaps not fixed with the same permanence 
as the contours of lakes and mountains and may be defined 
only in relative terms. On the other hand, the traits of na- 
tional character clearly are more stable than the cranial and 
facial characteristics of the various ethnographic divisions of 
a race. It would be highly unhistorical to regard the contours 
of national mentalities as mere evanescent and unsubstantial 
clouds hurrying across the firmament of history and vanishing 
in some unknown expanse where abides the unity of all 
differences. In the crowds of shop girls and office and factory 
workers who inundate London's Liverpool Street Station in 
the late afternoon, one would see fewer of the large-limbed, 
yellow-haired, blue-eyed type so admired by Tacitus. Yet one 
would find in these Londoners of our own day much of the 
spirit of ancient Britain; the very words of Tacitus might be 
taken as descriptive of the British working class of today: 

"As for the people themselves, they discharge ener- 
getically the levies and tributes and imperial obligations 
imposed upon them, provided always there be no wrong- 
doing. They are restive under wrong: for their subjec- 
tion, while complete enough to involve obedience, does 
not involve slavery.'* x 

For good or evil, Mr. Britling's warning holds true: "You 
think that John Bull is dead and a strange generation is wear- 
ing his clothes. I think you'll find very soon it's the old John 
Bull." 2 

1 Tacitus, Agricola, Ch. 13. 

2 Wells, H. G., Mr. Britling Sees It Through, New York, The Macmiilan 
Company, 1917, p. 34. 



THE GOOD MAN 9 

RESISTANCE TO ADVERSE FORCES 

It is true that there is no more rigid psychological law of 
nature than that which says, "Man is what he does; a people 
is its performance." 1 But this law is not so simple in its 
application. In order to understand important actions of an 
individual man or of collective man, the nation, it is often 
necessary to understand his intentions, and to know what he 
seeks to accomplish, what he likes to have done. Indeed, it 
is probably much more accurate to say that man is what he 
likes rather than to say that man is what he does. The surest 
key to the mysteries of the hidden soul of men or nations 
seems to lie in the study of their intimate scale of values, of 
the loyalties which direct their preferences and dictate their 
sacrifices. Accordingly, the first condition for comprehend- 
ing the English mind appears to be a realization of the fact 
that among the primary preoccupations of the Englishman is 
the problem of good and evil. 

In his conception of the good man, good character holds 
the first place. This attitude of mind is not, in itself, exclu- 
sively English; but there are certain component elements dis- 
tinctly English in the Briton's conception of what consti- 
tutes good character. The Englishman demands, before he 
grants a man the distinction of being considered a person 
of good character, the possession of certain characteristics, 
blended in a distinctive manner and degree, which lend to 
the English conception of the good man a tangible peculi- 
arity. 

The very intensity of the Englishman's interest in good 
character justifies the assertion that the English are more 

1 Cf. Dixon, W. M., op. tit., p. 115. 



10 THE ENGLISH MIND 

ardently convinced than other nations are of the truth of the 
celebrated reflection found in Aristotle's Politics: 

". . . man, when perfected, is the best of animals; but, 
when devoid of law and justice, he is the worst of all; 
since armed injustice is the more dangerous, and since he 
is equipped at birth with arms, meant to be used by in- 
telligence and virtue, which he may use for the worst 
ends." 1 

The Englishman is convinced that there is no substitute for 
good character* Of the major nations of Europe, England has 
been the least indifferent to the moral character of her poets. 
Experience, the Englishman believes, bears out Macaulay's 
warning that nine-tenths of the calamities which have be- 
fallen the human race have no other origin than the union of 
high intelligence with low desires. 

Critics at home, and more especially abroad, sometimes 
speak of the English race as 

"A race that binds 

Its body in chains and calls them Liberty, 
And calls each fresh link Progress.'* 2 

British custom and conventionality continually reforge these 
essential links. We well might ask, What are the most im- 
portant of the links that, according to English standards, 
should bind the man of good character to the accepted mold? 
Perhaps the first among these old links continually renewed 
is one that may be described as resistance to adverse forces. 
It is the Briton's refusal to truckle to the adverse forces of 
nature, of time and circumstance his bulldog insubmission 
to physical discomfort and pain. 

1 Book I. 2 Buchanan, R., Titan and Avatar, 



THE GOOD MAN II 

This important element of good character manifests itself 
under various forms. It may be recalled how, in May 1926, 
the traditional England of ordered freedom was challenged 
by the menace of a general strike organized by the extremists, 
who sought to transform an economic conflict into a struggle 
for the dictatorship of the so-called "proletariat." England in 
that crisis was saved by sane and sound individuals still to be 
found in sufficient numbers among her citizenship, who prac- 
tice the kind of conduct which Conrad's Captain MacWhirr 
taught young Jukes. The captain, it will be remembered, 
advised the young man that whenever an emergency should 
come upon him, the thing to do was not to discuss theories 
and above all not to permit himself to be disconcerted by any- 
thing, but to keep his nerve, stand fast, facing the storm as 
long as it lasted. "Facing it always facing it that's the way 
to get through." * 

In Galsworthy's The "Fredands, we find a telling portrait of 
the grandmother who refused to lose her "form" to advancing 
age. She would "ascend the stairs, breathless, because she 
would breathe through her nose to the very last step." John 
"worshipped that kind of stoicism which would die with its 
head up rather than live with its tail down." At the finish 
of his school mile, though he lost, he found himself entirely 
rewarded with the remark which he overheard a spectator 

make: " *I like that young 's running; he breathes through 

his nose/ At that moment, if he had stooped to breathe 

through his mouth, he must have won; as it was, he had lost 
in great distress and perfect form." 2 Historical testimony to 
this worship of good form even under the most adverse cir- 

1 Conrad, J. Typhoon, New York, Doubleday, Page and Co., 1923, p. 89. 

2 Galsworthy, J., The Frcelands, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1926, 
p. 175. 



12 THE ENGLISH MIND 

cumstances is given in the memoirs of Antoinette Tierce, a 
heroic woman of Lille, who writes of a Tommy to whom she 
gave refuge in 1917: 

"Furthermore, he had a warm heart, but all his words 
and all his gestures, however trivial, seemed to be inspired 
by the motto beloved of every loyal subject of His Majesty: 
'Be British and keep cool.' " * 

The value which the British put upon man's power of re- 
sistance to adverse forces finds expression even in their horti- 
cultural preferences. In J. B. Priestley's Faraway, the exiled 
Mrs. Jackson offers a typical explanation of her ingrained dis- 
taste for the tropical vegetation, the climate, and the natives 
of Tahiti: 

"I am sick of these big showy sticky sickly flowers. 
Those little wild flowers we have at home that come peep- 
ing up in the woods and the hedges, when it is still cold 
and wet ... a handful of them's worth more than all 
this sickly tropical stuff put together* . . . It's all too 
sloppy and cosy here. Yes, easy. You know what I mean* 
The sun just shines and shines and when rain is wanted it 
comes pelting down for an hour or two and that's that. 
There's no cold wind, no frost and snow and sleet, no 
mists and fog. They call it a human paradise and all that, 
but I don't want a human paradise. And, anyhow, this 
isn't one, except for sloppy, lazy people who don't want 
to make an effort. There's such a thing as making it too 
easy for everybody. Look at the flowers. Those little 
English spring flowers have a hard time; they have to 
come through the snow and sleet and east winds; but 

1 Tierce, A., Between Two Fires, London, John Lane, 1932, p. 6. 



THE GOOD MAN 13 

when they do come they've got something none of these 
flowers have got. You know that's true." x 

Perhaps the English idea of comfort furnishes one of the 
most interesting and revealing expressions of English ad- 
miration for resistance to adverse forces as a necessary quali- 
fication of the good man. It is on the whole a veritably cold 
:omfort, for it contains only the minimum of hedonistic soft- 
less. To call a true-born Englishman to witness on this point, 
Harold E. Scarborough warns a prospective visitor to England 
is follows: 

"He would certainly be pained by the tepid soup, the 
discouraged slab of cod or halibut, the flavorless beef or 
mutton, the overboiled potatoes and cabbage, and the 
soggy pudding or dry cheese that would constitute his 
luncheon in the restaurant car; but the service would be 
such as some other countries could not buy for love or 
money. And as for the coffee but enough! There is no 
compensation for, and few antidotes to, the concoction 
that in these islands is supposed to be coffee. . . . 

"Of course, in the matter of hotels and restaurants, 
England, outside of London, still is largely in the Dark 
Ages. One does not dwell more than one is forced to 
upon the typical hotel bedroom which is to be found 
everywhere except in the larger cities. The room, to begin 
with, is almost invariably chilly and damp. A depressed 
carpet long since has given up the unequal struggle of 
toning down the frightful wall paper. A melancholy fan- 
like spill of white paper graces the fireplace where coal 
should be blazing; a lumpy bed of jangling iron or creak- 

1 Priestley, J. B., 'Faraway, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1932, pp. 327 ft 



14 THE ENGLISH MIND 

ing cheap wood inspires the guest with a determination 
to reach it late and leave it early. An electric-light bulb 
depending from the center of the ceiling and another over, 
the dressing table permit him to see to manipulate the 
Victorian water jug, wash basin, and slop bowl; there is 
seldom a reading light. For his aesthetic gratification 
there are upon the walls steel engravings of The Stag at 
Bay' or The Doctor.' It is clean and free from vermin, 
but so are some jails. 
"No, distinctly, English hotels are not civilized." * 

To be sure, the hedonistic element in English everyday life 
has been increasing a result, perhaps, of the reappraisal of 
values growing out of the agitations following the World 
War. The major part of his comfit-producing activities, 
however, is still motivated by thc*wiglishman's tenacious will 
to assert himself and to preserve his material possessions 
against adverse external forces, and against the humiliating 
tendencies of things in general to warp, to decay indeed, 
against man's own tendency to slump in the line of least re- 
sistance. When he thinks of comfort, the Englishman seems 
to think in the first place of solid and massive things, so con- 
structed as to triumph over the disintegrating forces of time. 
During the World War, the French combatants were im- 
pressed with the well-groomed appearance of the English 
fighting units. In the memoirs of a French eyewitness, this 
significant testimony is offered: 

"At noon orders come for the first and second battalions 
to move up to the front at Ypres. All roads are clogged 
with advancing troops. The jam at crossroads is so great 

1 From England Muddles Through, by H. E. Scarborough, New York, 
I93 2 > PP- 22 ., p, 106. By permission of The Macmillan Company, publishers. 



THE GOOD MAN 15 

that all military efforts to regulate troop movements are 
ineffective. We join forces with the British, who appear 
to be abundantly equipped with adequate supplies of food 
and unlimited transports of infantry and artillery. One 
cannot help admiring the spirited, well-fed English horses 
with their shiny skins. What a contrast they present to 
our own horses! Our men express their enthusiasm at the 
sight of the freshly painted, new carriages, and the 
armored cars equipped with machine guns. Especially 
are they impressed by the sight of automobiles carrying tea 
kettles and distilled water. Our men, very much encour- 
aged, confidently predict victory over the Germans: What 
can Old Fritz do against such troops so superbly pre- 
pared?'" 1 

Another French observer, M Andre Chevrillon, comments 
at length upon the shining, compact, and well-ordered gear 
and utensils of British soldiers in and behind the trenches. 
He reflects, sympathetically and admiringly, upon the endless 
effort, vigilance, and patience necessary to keep traction horses 
at the front as clean and shining as officers' mounts. M. 
Chevrillon mentions that not infrequently French officers 
criticized their English colleagues for confusing means and 
ends in this matter of keeping things not only in a state of 
thorough efficiency, but also up to peace-time standards of 
appearance. The English rejoined by pointing out that the 
French workman is not really interested in his job unless it 
demands high craftsmanship; that, as a result, many French 
articles of war equipment proved too flimsy for hard usage, 
and that they were poorly kept even when they fully deserved 

1 Chamard, E., "Zonnebeke, Sentinelle avancee d'Ypres," Revue des Deux 
Uondes> i er novembre 1935, p. 106. 



l6 THE ENGLISH MIND 

a better treatment. The English referred, in particular, to the 
famous French seventy-five mm. field-gun as "the worst kept, 
though probably the best in Europe." l 

It is a Frenchman, the astute M. Chevrillon, who, in his 
analysis of the philosophy of British comfort, succeeds in ex- 
plaining why the Englishman, though rarely comfortable at 
home if judged by non-English standards, managed to intro- 
duce order and routine and even luxuries into the very 
trenches: 

"We came to understand that the habit and the need of 
what, in war time, seemed to us excessive comfort and 
luxuries, had their roots in most virile qualities of energy, 
endurance, contempt of death, and heroic sense of duty. 
In a degree, such disposition of the mind attested virtues 
that add much to the triumph of man over the external 
world, of the mind over matter. Indeed, one must possess 
a great capacity for resistance to tedium and have stable, 
solid nerves, to be able, war or no war, to exercise the fore- 
sight and effort necessary to keep things in such orderly 
fashion as the English do. The undying representative 
of the English race is and remains Robinson Crusoe, in- 
tent upon the labors of settling down, unflinching in his 
solitary, conscientious, and ceaseless struggle against the 
hostility of the external material world." 2 

1 Cf. the journal of Mrs. Thrale, who toured France in 1775 in company 
with Dr. Johnson, and thus reports on the court ceremony of "dining in 
public": 

'The King & Queen dined together in another Room. They had a Damask 
Table Cloth neither course (sic) nor fine, without anything under, or any 
Napkin over. Their Dishes were Silver, not clean and bright like Silver in 
England but they were Silver." (The French Journals of Mrs. Thrale and 
Dr. Johnson, Manchester University Press, 1932, pp. 124-125.) 

2 "Visites au front: sur le front anglais," Revue des Deux Mondes, i* 
juillet 1917, p. 51. 



THE GOOD MAN 17 

This Robinson Crusoe spirit made the English sanitary 
service famous at the front. The unflagging zeal of "sanitary 
inspectors," who directed a not less zealous and efficient per- 
sonnel, turned disease-ridden neighborhoods into quite pass- 
able health resorts, where "the construction of baths and 
laundries were minute details compared with the difficulties 
of coping with drainage and flies," * as a war diarist rightly 
observes. The same diarist relates "a typical incident" which 
seems well worth mentioning. A health officer, who was 
"as much a tartar on the score of flies" as he was on the sub- 
ject of drainage and the boiling of milk, was inspecting a field 
hospital. Having gruntingly approved everything, he sud- 
denly noticed a solitary fly, which had survived the staff's 
relentless war on the species, crawling upon the ceiling, "Ad- 
jutant," roared the Major, "what's that fly doing here?" Ter- 
rified, the Adjutant muttered tremulously: "I don't know, sir, 
to be sure. But I'll ask the Sergeant-Major!" 1 

The Puritan spirit of English comfort is probably best at- 
tested by the national neglect of good food and good wine. 
Mr, Bernard Shaw pays an unintentional compliment to the 
vi? bonus bntannicus when he says: "An Englishman thinks 
that he is moral when he is only uncomfortable." 2 In fact, 
a good Englishman is inclined to feel guilty and repentant 
of his well-being. It may be said of him that his comforts 
afford minor compensation to a man accustomed and ever 
ready to sustain the major hardships of life. The following 
bit of conversation between John Buchan's Lord Clanroyden 
("Sandy") and Major-General Sir Richard Hannay illustrates 
the attitude in question: 

1 Finzi, K. J., Eighteen Months in the War Zone, London, Cassell & Co., 
1916, pp. 181, 183. 

2 Man and Superman, New York, Brentano's, 1914, p. 102. 



l8 THE ENGLISH MIND 

"Sandy, as he sniffed the scents coming up from the 
woods and the ploughlands, seemed to feel the magic of 
the place. 

"'Pretty good/ he said. 'England is the only really 
comfortable spot on earth the only place where man can 
be utterly at home.' 

" Too comfortable,' I said. 'I feel I'm getting old and 
soft and slack. I don't deserve this place, and I'm not 
earning it.' 

"He laughed. 'You feel like that? So do I, often. 
There are times at Laverlaw when it seems that that 
blessed glen is too perfect for fallen humanity, and that 
I'm not worthy of it. It was lucky that Adam was kicked 
out of Paradise, for he couldn't have enjoyed it if he had 
remained there. I've known summer mornings so beauti- 
ful that they depressed me to my boots. I suppose it is 
proper to feel like that, for it keeps you humble, and 
makes you count your mercies.' 

" 1 don't know,' I said. 'It's not much good counting 
your mercies if you feel you have no right to them.* 

" 'Oh, we've a right to them. Both of us have been 
through the hards. But there's no such thing as a final 
right. We have to go on earning them.' 

" 'But we're not. I, at any rate. I'm sunk in cushions- 
lapped about in ease, like a man in a warm bath.* 

" That's right enough, provided you're ready to accept 
the cold plunge when it comes. At least that's the way I 
look at it. Enjoy your comforts, but sit loose to them. 
You'll enjoy them all the more if you hold them on that 
kind of tenure, for you'll never take them for granted.' " * 

1 Buchan, J., The Man from the Norlands, Boston, 1936, pp. 31 f.; used by 
permission of, and by arrangement with, Houghton Miffin Co. 



THE GOOD MAN 



It has been remarked that the English have fifty religions 
and only one sauce, but a Spanish visitor credits them with 
not even one sauce: 

"England is a country that eats without sauce and gela- 
tm ---- The Englishmen eat much, but as they eat sim- 
ple food they do not puzzle the taste and never eat more 
than what their stomach needs. On the other hand, the 
English do not have any taste. The English meal that is 
so practical, has a number of absurd things. I cannot yet 
understand why they do put their jelly to the omelette 
and syrup to the kidneys. The first time that they served 
me an omelette in this way I protested respectfully. 

^ 'h it that you do not like jelly?' the waitress asked me. 

" 'Yes, I like it very much.' 

"'Then, do you not like omelette?' 

"'Yes, I do also.' 

"Then undoubtedly you must like jelly omelette?' 

"That is the English logic. I was convinced, but my 
stomach remained skeptic." 1 

While in France eating is an art and drinking a noble rite, 
only Englishmen of continental culture may be expected to 
appreciate good food and drink. These sporadic sybarites 
merely go to prove the corrupting influence of less manly 
nations. The downright Britisher, in the words of Mr. H. A. 
Vachell, "detests fancy cooking and all kickshaws." 2 In the 
words of the same commenter, "he disdains dietetic experi- 
ments; he eyes distrustfully all dishes unfamiliar to him." * 

1 Camba, J., Londres: Impressions; de un Espanol, Madrid, Renacimiento, 
1910, p. ii. 

BM f Ettgland ' New York ' AHred A - 



*6 ff' < '' t M Ettgland ' New York ' AHred A - KnoP*. ^So. 
"Arising Out of That: Being an Eye-Witness 1 Account of the life, Love 
Laughter, Work, and Thought of the Inhabitants of the Village of Venner 



2O THE ENGLISH MIND 

The average Englishman is, in matters of food, well repre- 
sented by the English skippers who were called to Paris in 
1904 to give evidence before an international commission upon 
the action of the Russian fleet, which had inadvertently fired 
upon English fishing boats at Dogger Bank. The skippers 
complained to an English journalist who visited them at their 
headquarters in Paris: 

" Them Frenchies started giving us a lot of little bits 
of things to eat. They started giving us a thin sort of 
broth with little white worms in it* So we took and flung 
all the lot straight out of the windows. "Give us beef and 
mutton," we says to that there interpreter, and he passes 
on the word.' *So, in Paris,' concludes the chronicler, 'that 
center of culinary art, beef and mutton they got, and what 
Paris thought of such a reproach I did not hear/ " l 

In a case so grave let us call in another witness, whose study 
of English inns marks him as an expert: 

"It was, I think, the innkeeper who discovered that a 
tin can be opened in a few seconds, who started the trou- 
ble. From shirking his kitchen-business by tin-opening, 
he sank to shirking other departments. He neglected to 
welcome his guests, or even to see that they were wel- 
comed by one of his hirelings* From that he has sunk to 
practical jokes to putting in his bedrooms bells that do 
not ring, or bells that do ring and are never answered. He 
has discovered that one kind of soup will do for his cus- 
tomers, and it does. He gives it different names, but it 
is always the same soup. He has fish in his bill of fare, 

Situated on the Borders of Melshire and the Forest of Ys, During the Past 
Fifty Years, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1935, p. 199. 

1 Nevinson, H, W., More Changes, More Chances, New York, Harcourt, 
Brace and Co., 1925, p. 347. 



THE GOOD MAN 21 

but from my collection of bills of fare I gather that the 
waters of this island afford no other fish than sole and 
plaice. The same with cheese. Last week, at the end of 
one of these mortifying lunches, hoping that I might yet 
get something to eat, I asked the maid what cheese they 
had. She said 'Cheese.* I said, 'Yes, but what cheese 
Stilton, Camembert, Roquefort, Cheshire, or' 'No, sir. 
Only Cheese! 

"A French innkeeper is delighted to meet a guest who 
discusses the carte intelligently, and orders a special and 
sensibly-planned meal; it is a demonstration of mutual in- 
terest in one of the graces of life. An English innkeeper 
positively dislikes such a guest, and sees nothing in him 
but a man who is disturbing the routine of tin-opening." * 

Mr. Vachell sadly and not without an undertone of irrita- 
tion concludes that "Englishmen get the food they deserve." 
"It is shockingly bad," he testifies, "in most inns and hotels 
out of the big cities; and is it pathos or bathos to record that 
for the most part [native] tourists believe it to be good? 
When I wrote on this subject some years ago a gentleman 
from the Antipodes took exception to what I said. He replied 
that he had travelled from John o' Groats to Land's End, stay- 
ing in many hotels, and that he had found the food provided 
better than what he had at home." * In this connection, Mr. 
Vachell quotes the following epigram: 

"The French have taste in all they do, 

Which we are quite without, 
For Nature, that to them gave goto, 
To us gave only gout." 3 

1 Burke, T., The English Inn, New York, Longmans, Green & Co., 1931, 
pp. 166-167. 2 Ibid., p. 192. 3 lUd., p. 300. 



NM-3 



22 THE ENGLISH MIND 

M, Poincare remarked of Edward VIII, then Prince of Wales, 
on the occasion of his visit to the Marquis de Breteuil in 1913: 
"A young man of remarkable self-restraint, he showed dis- 
dainful indifference to the excellent cuisine,'* l 

It is a fact almost without precedent in history that the 
English ruling classes, the aristocracy, whether hereditary or 
monetary, have never become victims of sybaritism. The rul- 
ing classes of Greece and of Rome fell to this temptation; so 
have the ruling classes of the European Continent. But even 
when their incomes were highest and their positions appeared 
indefinitely secure, the ruling classes of Britain practiced a 
non-hedonistic or only moderately hedonistic conception of 
comfort. 

This English attitude toward comfort is historic and ex- 
tends even into the realm of the fine arts. When, for in- 
stance, the Renaissance ushered in the era of comfort-seeking, 
which promised to do away with the rigors of the Middle 
Ages, the architecture of many countries responded to the 
movement by endowing churches in particular with the ob- 
vious comforts of light and space and the luxury of ornament. 
In England, this architectural expression of the Renaissance 
had a very limited success. While the Italian and French 
Renaissance edifices, in the fitting words of Professor Esin 
Wingfield-Stratford, "are instinct with a full-blooded exuber- 
ance, a pride and joyousness," the English constructions of 
the period retain "a certain undercurrent of melancholy, and 
a poetry compared with which the French style seems the 
most superb of rhetoric." 2 

1 Poincar6, R., Au service de h France, Paris, Plon, t I, p. 189. 

2 Wingfield-Stratford, E,, The History of British Civilization, New York, 
Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1930, p. 184. 



THE GOOD MAN 23 

ATHLETICS, GAMES, AND SPORTS 

We shall see on more than one occasion in the course of 
the present study that the French, with their love of and 
ability for analysis and neat definitions, explain aptly the psy- 
chology of the English; while the English seldom explain 
themselves, and then imperfectly. It was a Frenchman, M. 
Jean Prevost, an instructor at Cambridge, who interpreted so 
well the spirit which appears to be the basis of the worth at- 
tributed by the Englishman to athletics, sports, and games. 
In his Plcdsirs des Sports, M. Prevost notes the following 
changes which he perceived in himself as a result of sys- 
tematic athletic exercises: 

"I had acquired that Puritan spirit, that sense of scruple, 
that craving for duty which are the inspiration of those 
movements, as regulated and as sacred as prayer, and 
which are no longer effective when the worshiper grows 
lukewarm in his devotions. . . . These gymnastics put 
muscle on me; that means little; dumb-bells or elastics 
will put an abundance of useless muscle in a very short 
while* . . . The lack of objective, which renders this form 
of gymnastics disagreeable to many, is made up for by an 
internal struggle between the active and the passive parts 
of the body." 1 

Like others, the English seek in sports and games the ob- 
vious, universally recognized pleasures of wholesome relaxa- 
tion from mental work or worries, and of the well-being pro- 
duced by invigorating, moderately competitive open-air exer- 

1 Quoted in The European Caravan: An Anthology of the New Spirit in 
European Literature, compiled and edited by Samuel Putnam and J. Bro- 
nowski, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1931, Part I, pp. 234, 235. 



24 THE ENGLISH MIND 

cises. But the English probably more than other nations have 
been aware of and intent upon the character-building influence 
of games and sports. The cultivation of games and sports, 
which has long been pursued in England, not only by the 
leisure class but also by the middle and the lower middle class, 
has contributed toward developing in the nation a high degree 
of self-control, self-reliance, courage in the face of danger and 
difficulties, tenacity of purpose, and team-spirit. To borrow 
from a historian of cricket: 

"The laws of cricket tell of the English love of com- 
promise between a particular freedom and a general order- 
liness, or legality. Macdonald's best break-back is ren- 
dered null and void if he should let his right foot stray 
merely an inch over the crease as he wheels his arm. Law 
and order are represented at cricket by the umpires in 
their magisterial coats (in England it is hoped these coats 
will never be worn as short as umpires wear them in Aus- 
tralia, much to the loss of that dignity which should al- 
ways invest dispensers of justice). And in England um- 
pires are seldom mobbed or treated with the contumely 
which is the lot of the football referee. If everything else 
in this nation of ours were lost but cricket her Constitu- 
tion and the laws of England of Lord Halsbury it would 
be possible to reconstruct from the theory and the prac- 
tice of cricket all the eternal Englishness which has gone 
to the establishment of that Constitution and the laws 
aforesaid." x 

If the qualities of character which are at least partially pro- 
moted by games and sports are demanded of the "good man,** 

1 Cardus, N., Crkfa, The English Heritage Series, New York, Longmans, 
Green & Co., 1930, pp. 5 f. 



THE GOOD MAN 25 

irrespective of social and economic position, they are all the 
more exacted from men and women who aspire to positions 
of leadership. Small wonder, then, that when a person is 
selected to fill a position of authority and command over 
other men, or when a political or military leader's achieve- 
ments are reviewed in the daily press or a book, his distinc- 
tion in sports is prominently mentioned. It is but to be ex- 
pected that announcement of a new headmaster's appointment 
invariably includes his record as athlete and sportsman; per- 
haps it is equally fitting that his obituary should close with 
such words as these: "He never forgot that he had been tried 
as a wing three-quarters for Oxford University, and he was a 
regular attendant at the University and college football 
matches." x 

In the World War chronicles of life and work at the British 
General Headquarters is included an element not to be found 
in similar publications of any other belligerent nation save 
those of the United States. Organized sports were an in- 
evitable feature of life at British Headquarters. Recreation 
grounds were provided, and teams and matches organized as 
a matter of course. When the press of work and responsibili- 
ties made regular participation in the games impossible for 
many members of the General Headquarters, "an enthusiastic 
sportsman would send an urgent whip round to call attention 
to our deplorable neglect of the games that made England 
great." 2 

When the friends of Sir Douglas Haig sought his promo- 
tion to the post of Commander-in-Chief of the British Ex- 
peditionary Force to succeed Field Marshal Sir John French, 

1 The obituary notice for the Rev. George Ernest Newsom of Selwyn Col- 
lege, Cambridge, published in The Times, Educational Supplement (Lon- 
don), February 24, 1934, No. 982, p. 62. 

2 G. H. Q. f London, Philip Allan & Co., 1920, p. 51. 



26 THE ENGLISH MIND 

a long list of General Haig's qualifications was put before the 
public. The survey of the General's career prominently men- 
tioned that he had played with distinction on the polo team 
of his cavalry regiment during early service. 1 It is not sur- 
prising, to Britishers at any rate, that the last chapter in the 
life of General Lord Rawlinson of Trent, an outstanding Eng- 
lish commander in the World War who later served as Com- 
mander-in-Chief in India, 1920-1925, is entitled "Polo in 
India." It contains the following passage: 

"On his 6ist birthday the General played back in a team 
which won the lower handicap tournament at Delhi. The 
last entry in his diary runs: 'I went to Dehra to play 
cricket for Patial against the boys. . * . I greatly enjoyed 
my visit and made 21 runs.' " 2 

In vain would one search for similar notations in the biog- 
raphies of Hindenburg, or in the memoirs of Joffre or Foch, 
Nor would it be an easy matter to find even in present-day 
letters of an aged French or German mother to her son such 
news as Mrs. Mary Turner, of East Hoathly, Essex, sent to her 
son in September, 1739: "Last Munday youre Father was at 
Mr. Payns and plaid at Cricket and come home pleased 
anuf, for he struck the best Ball in the game and wished he 
had no anny thing else to do he would play Cricket all his 
Life." 8 

An incident related to sport probably played a curiously 
significant part in World War history* After the rout of the 
British in the Ludendorff "peace offensive," further delay in 

1 Cf. Churchill, W., The World Crisis, New York, Charles Scribncr's Sons, 
1929, p. 659. 

2 Maurice, Sir R, Editor, The Life of General Lord Rawlinson of Trent, 
Prom His Journals and Letters, Boston, Hough ton MifHin Co., 1928, p, 341. 

8 Cardus, N., op. cit. t pp. 176 . 



THE GOOD MAN 27 

the appointment of an Allied Commander-in-Chief assumed 
a very grave aspect. Even when the British had resigned 
themselves to the inevitability of the Generalissimo's being a 
Frenchman, the problem was far from solved. In the final 
selection of Foch, the General's military talents and his ability 
to get along well with the English, already demonstrated 
under trying circumstances, were potent factors, undoubtedly. 
But the favorable impression made upon the members of the 
British War Cabinet by Foch's appreciation of the spirit of 
boxing probably was not without its influence at the crucial 
moment. M. Jean Pierrefeu, who was the communique editor 
at the French General Headquarters, has written a war chron- 
icle remarkable for its sincerity and finesse, in which we find 
the following passage: 

"Foch's military genius seems to be generated by a re- 
flex which is at one and the same time cerebral and mus- 
cular. . , . When he translates his conceptions into words, 
he accompanies them, in fact prefaces them, with gesture. 
It is well known what definition of victory he gave at the 
conference of Doullens (at which the choice of the Allied 
Commander-in-Chief was decided upon) before the repre- 
sentatives of the French and English Governments: 'Vic- 
tory is like the boxing bag that has to be hammered on 
with a judicious shower of hits.' Saying this, he boxed 
the air in front of him. His forceful posture and vehe- 
ment gestures filled with enthusiasm tie representatives 
of the nation of boxers." * 

Shaw's Lady Utterword, in Heartbreak House, declares that 
"there are only two classes in good society in England: the 
equestrian class and the neurotic class"; and she adds, "It isn't 

* Pierrefeu, J., G. Q. G., Paris, Ores, 1922, t. II, p. 169. 



28 THE ENGLISH MIND 

mere convention: everybody can see that the people who hunt 
are the right people and the people who don't are the wrong 
ones." l This is, of course, a Shavian hyperbole. It remains, 
however, quite true that, thanks to the practice of sports and 
games, animated by a peculiar philosophy of sportsmanship, 
which is sound though not free from exaggeration, England 
possesses many sons and daughters whose spiritual home is, to 
borrow from Mr. Stanley Baldwin, the last ditch. 2 

An interesting case of miscarried confidence in the relation 
of sports to a public man's worth as a statesman concerns Sir 
Samuel Hoare. On his appointment as Foreign Secretary in 
October, 1935, the press gave prominence to his record as a 
sportsman: "A fond sportsman since his school days at Har- 
row and Oxford, Sir Samuel plays tennis, squash, and cricket 
and is termed one of the finest amateur ice skaters in all 
merrie England." It will be remembered that Sir Samuel soon 
suffered a bad fall on the diplomatic ice for arranging the 
abortive Laval-Hoare Agreement, under which Italy was to be 
given two-thirds of Ethiopia, and which led to his resignation 
from the office. 

THE ENGLISHMAN AS THE HOMO BIOGRAPHICUS 

Being convinced that there is no substitute for good char- 
acter, the Englishman seeks, instinctively or consciously, to 
develop his knowledge of men, in particular, men of the caliber 
of leaders. Even the critical study of the work of a fiction 
writer is in England very largely the study of the man himself. 
Relatively infrequent in English literature, rightly observes 
Professor Wilhelm Dibelius, are novels or plays chiefly con- 

1 Shaw, G. B,, Heartbreak House, New York, Brentano's, 1919, p. 101. 

2 The Journal of Education (London), December, 1933, p. 779. 



THE GOOD MAN 29 

cerned with ethical, political, or social problems. The Eng- 
lishman is primarily interested in the story of personalities. 1 

The Englishman is much less concerned with the political, 
aesthetic, or metaphysical doctrine of a writer than with the 
man himself, his character, and the way he meets the problems 
of good and evil in his private and public life. So the Eng- 
lishman may, indeed, be given the attribute of homo biograph- 
icus; z he is the creature fond of biographical literature, be- 
cause he is convinced of the importance of the study of char- 
acter. As a result, an examination of the records of lending 
libraries in the English countryside reveals that next to the 
Encyclopaedia Britanniea the most favored volumes are those 
of the Dictionary of National Biography? A brief compara- 
tive survey of biographical publications in European countries 
made by the BooJ^ Review Digest for 1922-1932 shows that dur- 
ing this decade ninety-one major biographies of statesmen and 
public men, including eighteen autobiographies, were pub- 
lished in England; while France contributed twenty-six such 
studies; Germany, sixteen; Austria, thirteen; Russia, thirteen; 
Italy, six; Belgium, two; Spain, two; Roumania, two. It seems 
worth mentioning, also, that the Englishman's preferred 
method of teaching Christianity is the biographical method; 
while his Continental neighbors expound the Christian doc- 
trine, the Englishman contents himself with teaching the life 
of Christ and His Apostles, and the traditions of the Church. 

The Englishman seems fully to comprehend the public 
value of records, even though incomplete, of life-histories rich 
in experience. He well understands that not to record the 
momentous struggles, victories, and defeats in the life of lead- 

1 Cf. Dibelius, W., England, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1930, p. 148. 

2 Cf. Maurois, A., Aspects of Biography, New York, D. Appleton and Co., 
1929, p. 201. 

8 Cf . Vachell, A. R, Arising Out of That, dt., p. 270. 



3O THE ENGLISH MIND 

ing men and women would be national squandering; that to 
ignore such records when available is to miss a valuable op- 
portunity to increase and improve one's most important equip- 
ment for life the knowledge of men, especially good men. 
So he thinks, with Macaulay, "No kind of reading is so de- 
lightful, so fascinating, as this minute history of a man's 
self." x Hence the wealth of excellent biographical literature 
in England, generated not so much by mere curiosity or 
egotistical preoccupation, as by the "attempt to clutch at 
transitory time before it whirls into oblivion" writings in- 
spired by the "fond endeavor to retard that hurrying chariot, 
to grasp the vanishing shadow, and with Faust to cry to the 
moment: 'Verweile dock, du bist so schon!' a Or if the mo- 
ment be not fair but grisly, still one would not have it blotted 
out for ever." 8 
In this connection Professor Dixon pointedly observes: 

"England has been called the chosen home of moral 
philosophy, and the thought that a work of art may be 
good artistically and bad morally is foreign, even repug- 
nant to the English mind. Everything seems to us a part 
of conduct. Many attempts have been made to persuade 
us to the contrary. Yet from the first our poets have 
never wavered, one and all though our more recent writ- 
ers pour scorn upon such purposes in art one and all they 
openly confess their intentions. Spenser's avowed aim in 
his Fame Queene was 'to fashion a gentleman or noble 
person in virtues and gentle discipline/ 'The principal 

1 Cf . Ponsonby, A., A Review of English Diaries from the Sixteenth to the 
Twentieth Century, New York, Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1927. 

2 Stay a little longer with me; you are so fair! 

8 Nevinson, H. W., Changes and Chances, New York, Harcourt, Brace and 
Co., 1923, p. vii. 



THE GOOD MAN 31 

end of poetry,* wrote Ben Jonson, 'is to inform men in 
the just reason of living/ 'I applied myself,' said Milton, 
'not to make verbal curiosity my end . . . but to be an 
interpreter and revealer of the best and sagest things 
among my own citizens throughout this island in my 
mother dialect.' Wordsworth insists, C I wish to be re- 
garded as a teacher or as nothing.' Shelley declared, in- 
deed, that 'didactic poetry is my abhorrence'; none the 
less he rivals Wesley in the fervor with which he preaches 
humanitarian gospel." * 

In this study our interest in the Englishman's conception of 
the good man and of good character is primarily relative to 
the effect of such a concept upon the international "specific 
gravity" of the English nation. Therefore, it seems of im- 
portance to recall that this nation has been eminently success- 
ful, on the whole, in selecting for its leaders men and women 
of good character. The history of modern England is substan- 
tially free from the scandal of bribery, high treason, and profli- 
gate pleasure-seeking at the expense of the nation, though, 
not unlike that of other countries, it has sad pages of blun- 
dering inefficiency. Even comparatively mild cases of abuse 
of office, such as the exploitation, for speculative purposes, of 
the Government's budgetary plans on the part of J. H. Thomas, 
Colonial Secretary in the Baldwin Cabinet in 1936, are very 
rare in the conduct of English public affairs. 2 The English 

1 Dixon, W. M., The Englishman, New York, Longmans, Green & Co., 
1931, pp. 142-143. 

2 Cf . Kuhn, R, "Stolid Baldwin Regains Control," the New York Times, 
Sunday, June 7, 1936: 

"The real victims of this unprecedented episode have been the leaders of 
the Labor Party, for a large section of the voting public has concluded that 
because Mr. Thomas was a typical workingman, who dropped his H's, no 
other workingman who drops his aspirates can be trusted in high office. Mr. 



32 THE ENGLISH MIND 

public is not only a good judge but also a strict judge of 
character. The stories of Sir Charles Dilke and the Irish 
Parnell show that in British politics a public man cannot sur- 
vive even a social scandal, but, in the picturesque words of 
Senor Madariaga, is "hounded out of politics," 1 for strictly 
personal indiscretions. 

Finally, the Englishman's earnest admiration of good char- 
acter, his appreciation of it as the highest human value, is well 
illustrated by the very careful handling of matters relating to 
the personal reputation of public men, living or dead. No 
reflection, however jesting, upon a man's reputation is ad- 
missible in English politics, unless it is intended as a direct 



accusation. 2 



ENGLISH HUMOR 



Even in his humor, the Englishman seeks a moral goal. 
The Englishman's humor seems to serve a twofold aim; it is 
a safety valve for his control of emotion a characteristic 
which will be discussed later in this study and also a moral 
lesson, however mellowed by jest, which is significantly aimed 
at the development of character. This second but not less 
significant aspect of English humor we shall now consider 
briefly. 

A comparison between English and French humor may be 
helpful in the analysis of the point in question. French wit 
is in the nature of intellectual fireworks created by a sudden 

Thomas was "not a gentleman" so what else could you expect of him? 
Thus runs the argument in thousands of middle-class homes and even in 
the shabbier suburbs of London, where the mother of a stenographer will 
not speak to her next door neighbor because she is the mother of a servant 
girl." 

1 Madariaga, S., Englishmen, frenchmen, Spaniards, New York, Oxford 
University Press, 1931, p. 164. 

2 Cf. Collier, P., England and the English from an American Point of View. 
New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1909, p. 216. 



THE GOOD MAN 33 

perception of absurdities, miscalculations, and gaucheries; 
English humor, on the other hand, is excellently defined as 
"thinking in fun while feeling in earnest." 1 French wit 
amuses and enchants one for a brief moment. English humor, 
in the words of Max O'Rell, "lightly tickles you under the 
ribs, and quietly takes possession of you by degrees; the bright 
idea, instead of being laid bare, is subtly hidden; it is only 
after you have peeled off the coating of sarcasm lying on the 
surface, that you get at the fun underneath." English humor 
calls forth "slow grins and chuckles; it is not something that 
can be picked up with the language, but something that must 
be given time to filter through, and thus, while it is every- 
where, a traveller in a hurry might well be excused for not 
noticing it is here at all." 2 French wit is sometimes likened 
to sparkling champagne, and English humor to ale. "Do you 
like ale?" asks Taine. "Drink it, your palate will become 
habituated to it; as a beverage it is wholesome, and, on the 
whole, strengthening. So is English humour." 8 

ENGLISH POLITICAL MYSTICISM 4 

As stands to reason, no nation has become a world power 
without subjugating to its own sovereignty, or imfcrium as 
the Romans called it, some foreign tribes or nations. This 
expansion of sovereignty by force of arms or equivalent pres- 
sure is known as imperialism. Imperialism has, naturally, 

1 Cf. Priestley, J. B., English Humour, New York, Longmans, Green & Co., 
1929, p. 1 8. 

2 O'Rell, M. (Blouet, P.)> English Pharisees, French Crocodiles and Other 
Anglo-French Typical Characters, Toronto, 1892, p. 88. 

8 Taine, H., Notes on England, New York, Henry Holt and Co., 1876, 
p. 327. 

4 Adapted from our Shactyed Diplomacy: The Permanent Factors of For- 
eign Policies of Nations, New York, Barnes & Noble, 1934, Ch. Ill, "Political 
Mysticism," 



34 THE ENGLISH MIND 

imposed sacrifices, not only upon the intimidated and con- 
quered nations, but also upon the conquerors. Sacrifices in 
wealth, energy, and human life are usually demanded of its 
subjects by the nation-aggressor in the name of three actual 
or supposed imperious necessities: (a) To defend the honor 
of the nation by avenging insults and humiliations, past or 
present, actual or imagined; (b) to secure some vital interest 
of the nation, such as easily defensible or "natural'* frontiers, 
or to insure means of subsistence through the appropriation 
of arable lands, sources of raw materials, and industrial 
markets; (c) to bestow upon "barbarous" tribes or nations the 
peculiarly superior outlook and modes of living which are 
attributed to itself by the conquering nation, and which are 
usually referred to pompously but vaguely as civilization. Of 
this blissful civilization the nation-conqueror believes itself 
the creator and possessor in a peculiar degree, and it believes 
also that its mission, received from Providence or from "Hu- 
manity," is to bring this civilization, by force of arms if neces- 
sary, to the nation or nations pronounced "backward" or blind 
to its benefits, actual or imaginary. 

These three predominant factors, which shape the foreign 
policies of nations revanche, vital interests, and political 
mysticism usually function jointly. At certain crises, how- 
ever, in the preparation, execution, and consolidation of an 
imperialistic conquest, the factor of political mysticism over- 
shadows the more sordid interests. It is a noble though much 
abused peculiarity of mankind that the average man of any 
country whatsoever can be moved more certainly and more 
deeply by idealistic faith than by merely practical, even im- 
peratively practical, considerations. Disraeli has rightly ob- 
served that the world has never been conquered by intrigue, 
but it has repeatedly been conquered by faith. 



THE GOOD MAN 35 

The particular trend that this very significant form of faith, 
political mysticism, takes in a nation intent upon or actually 
engaged in an imperialistic war, furnishes a valuable aid to- 
ward the comprehension of that nation's mind or ethos. Na- 
tions differ markedly in their political mysticism. Of the three 
nations with which we are concerned in the present volume, 
the English, in accordance with the basic trends of the na- 
tional mind, believe firmly that they have received the mis-, 
sion of bringing to mankind the blessing of orderly civic 
liberties and of morally and physically sane private life. The 
French are certain that their mission is to spread clear ideas 
in the world. The Germans are convinced that they are par- 
ticularly endowed with the mystic power of hearkening to 
the inner voice of the true and the truly godly in mankind, 
and of bringing to mankind the gospel of the mystic mes- 
sage, not less mystically named Deutschtum, or pure German- 
ism. 

Postponing a further discussion of French and German 
political mysticism until later chapters, let us now briefly 
study English political mysticism, which is so clearly con- 
nected with the Englishman's conception of the good 
man. 

Count Sforza, in a paper published in Foreign Affairs of 
October, 1927, refers to "that precious gift bestowed upon the 
British people the possession of writers and clergymen able 
in perfect good faith to advance the highest moral reasons for 
the most concrete diplomatic action, with inevitable material 
profit to England." Indeed, the imperialistic action of the 
English nation, that is the action aimed at dominion over peo- 
ples of other races and annexation of their lands, has been 
spiritually sustained by the chosen-people complex. The be- 
lief in England's mystic mission as the bearer of the truly 



36 THE ENGLISH MIND 

superior, because truly moral, civilization has been expressed 
again and again by representative English writers and political 
leaders. 

For instance, in John Lyly's Eupkues and His England, 
published in 1581, in the reign of the not too prudish Virgin 
Queen, one can peruse long pages full of detailed enumeration 
of the virtues of the English, in distinction from the vices of 
Italians, Greeks, and Frenchmen. Small wonder, then, that 
God ordained the War of the Roses to cease before those 
virtuous persons wholly exterminated one another: 

"But the God who was loath to oppresse England, at last 
began to represse iniuries, and giue an ende by mercie, to 
those that could finde no ende of malice, nor looke for any 
ende of mischief e. So tender a care hath he alwaies had of 
that England, as of a new Israel, his chosen and peculier 
people." 1 

To bring the moral worth of the English into a sharper re- 
lief, the novelist makes Euphues, a visiting Greek, first praise 
"two famous Universities, the one Oxforde, the other Cam- 
bridge, both for the profession of all sciences, for Diuinitie, 
phisiscke, Lawe, and all kind of learning, excelling all the 
Uniuersities in Christendome." 2 He then proceeds to eulogize 
the women of England in round terms". - . this I say, that 
the Ladyes in England as farre excell all other countries in 
vertue, as Venus doth all other woemen in beautie. . . ," 8 
What is the proof? Here it is. Addressing himself to the 
women of the Continent, the observant "Greek" makes the 
following comparisons: 

1 Lyly, John, Complete Wartys, London, Oxford University Press, 1902, Vol. 
II, p. 205. 

2 Ibid., p. 193. Ibid., p. 100. 



THE GOOD MAN 37 

"They in England pray when you play, sowe when you 
sleep, fast when you feast, and weepe for their sins when 
you laugh at your sensualitie. They frequent the church 
to serue God, you to see gallants, they deck them-selues 
for clenlinesse, you for pride, they maintaine their beautie 
for their own lyking, you for others lust, they refraine 
wine bicause they fear to take too much, you bicause you 
can take no more." x 

Some four hundred years later, Tennyson expressed the same 
conviction in his "National Song"; he found "no land like 
England," no maids so beautiful, no wives so chaste as hers. 

Shakespeare's ecstatic hymn to England includes both the 
island and the race: 

"This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, 
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, 
This other Eden, demi-paradise; 
This fortress built by nature for herself 
Against infection and the hand of war, 
This happy breed of men, this little world, 
This precious stone, set in the silver sea, 
Which serves it in the office of a wall, 
Or as a moat defensive to house, 
Against the envy of less happier lands; 
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. . . ." 2 

Even in the twentieth century few Englishmen would quar- 
rel with Sir Thomas Browne, who asserted in Christian Morals: 
"The true heroick English gentleman hath no peer." 

John Milton, to be sure, not without taking certain liberties 
with history, formulated the chosen-people doctrine. In Area- 

1 IUd. f p. 202. 

2 Shakespeare, Richard II, Act ii, sc. i, 

NM-4 



38 THE ENGLISH MIND 

fagitica, a pamphlet addressed to Parliament, is found the fol* 
lowing profession of faith in the destinies of England: 

"Lords and Commons of England, consider what Nation 
it is whereof ye are, and whereof ye are the governours: 
a Nation not slow and dull, but of a quick, ingenious and 
piercing spirit, acute to invent, suttle and sinewy to dis- 
cours, not beneath the reach of any point the highest that 
human capacity can soar to. Therefore the studies of 
learning in her deepest Sciences have bin so ancient, and 
so eminent among us, that Writers of good antiquity and 
ablest judgement have bin perswaded that ev'n the school 
of Pythagoras and the Persian wisdom took beginning 
from the old Philosophy of this Hand. And that wise 
and civill Roman, Julius Agricola, who govern'd once here 
for Caesar, preferr'd the naturall wits of Britain before the 
labour'd studies of the French. . . Yet that which is 
above all this, the favour and the love of heav'n, we have 
great argument to think in a peculiar manner propitious 
and propending towards us. Why else was this Nation 
chos'n before any other, that out of her as out of Sion 
should be proclaim'd and sounded forth the first tidings 
and trumpet of Reformation to all Europ (John Wycliff e) ? 
. . * Now once again by all concurrence of signs and by 
the generall instinct of holy and devout men, as they daily 
and solemnly expresse their thoughts, God is decreeing to 
begin some new and great period in his Church, ev'n to 
the reforming of Reformation it self. What does he then 
but reveal Himself to his servants, and as his manner is, 
first to his English-men; I say as his manner is, first to us, 
though we mark not the method of his counsels, and are 
unworthy?" 



THE GOOD MAN 39 

"Let not England forget her precedence of teaching nations 
how to live," the great Puritan exhorted in his essay, "Doctrine 
and Discipline of Divorce." The vulgarized form of this doc- 
trine is the saying, "Doubtless God could have created a greater 
nation than the English, but he never did." 

The mystically idealistic motive, which, together with mo- 
tives less lofty, stimulated the English in the Napoleonic as 
well as in subsequent wars, is well expressed by Wordsworth 
in these lines: 

"We must be free or die, who speak the tongue 
That Shakespeare spake; the faith and morals hold 
Which Milton held. In everything we are sprung 
Of Earth's first blood, have titles manifold." 

William Pitt said in a speech at the Lord Mayor's banquet 
on November 9, 1805: "England has saved herself by her exer- 
tions, and will, I trust, save Europe by her example." Accord- 
ingly, after the first abdication of Napoleon in 1814, a com- 
memorative medal was struck in England, rather prematurely: 
"Se ipsam constantly Europam examplo" 

Napoleon, according to a modern dramatist, gave a different 
explanation of the Englishman's motives in foreign policies in 
the following terse political close-up: "When an Englishman 
wants a thing, he never tells himself that he wants it. He 
waits patiently until there comes into his mind, no one knows 
how, a burning conviction that it is his moral and religious 
duty to conquer those who have got the thing he wants." 1 
These Napoleonic sallies did not even scratch the solid armor 
of English political mysticism: 

"All the English statesmen have proclaimed this reli- 
gious mission. Lord Rosebery, a strong Whig, declared 

1 Shaw, B., Man of Destiny, New York, Brentano's, 1907, p. 81. 



40 THE ENGLISH MIND 

that the British Empire 'is the greatest secular agent of 
moral progress known in the world.* A Tory, who em- 
bodies in all his ideas, in his brusqueness, and even in his 
corpulence, the traits of the old landed aristocracy, Lord 
Salisbury, exclaimed: The course of events, I would prefer 
to say the acts of Providence, have called this country to 
exert a morality and influence on the progress of the 
world such as an empire has never before exerted.' The 
same idea was expressed again by the Liberal Gladstone: 
To this great empire Providence has entrusted a mission 
and a special function.' Likewise the Radical John Morley 
said, The work most useful to humanity has been accom- 
plished by England.' " * 

An interesting recent instance was furnished by the Wash- 
ington speech of Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, as the Socialist 
Prime Minister, made in October, 1929, during his political 
visit to President Hoover. Including the United States, willy- 
nilly, in a predestined Anglo-American partnership, Mr. Mac- 
Donald declared that Providence had entrusted these favored 
nations with the mission of maintaining peace throughout the 
world. The declaration provoked the wrath of a Fascist poli- 
tician, Signor Forges-Davanzati, member of the Grand Fascist 
Council, who, in an article entitled "The Language of the 
Kaiser," published by the Tribuna, protested against the Scot's 
"socialistic hypocrisy mingled with the mystic aspiration to 
world hegemony." 

It was the peculiarly English popular form of political mys- 
ticism that was responsible for the foundation of the Anglo- 
Israel Identity Society in the last quarter of the nineteenth 
century. The object of this curious organization was to prove, 

1 Bardoux, J., Essai d'une psychologic de I'dngleterre contemporainc~-Lcf 
crises religiettses, Paris, Felix Alcan, 1906, p. 83. 



THE GOOD MAN 4! 

in good Ethiopian fashion, that the British are descended 
from the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel and that the English royal 
line can be traced back to David. 

Max O'Rell noted that under the Englishman's missionary 
garb one can invariably distinguish the hidden armor of a 
conquistador: 

"He conquers for the world and for the good of the 
world. When he goes after pastures new, he takes the 
Bible with him. It will not be very long before the natives 
have the Bible and he the land. On arriving upon his 
new field of operation, the missionary places the Bible in 
the hands of the natives, and thus addresses them: 'My 
dear Brethren, lift your eyes to heaven, and pray. Lift 
your eyes higher higher still higher that is it. Now 
close them until I tell you that's it pray there now 
open your eyes, you are saved.' 

"When the worthy natives open their eyes, their terri- 
tory is gone." x 

The Anglo-Israel Identity Society had a very different expla- 
nation to offer to the English public. Among the proclama- 
tions of the Society, whose spokesmen seemed entirely liber- 
ated by their political mysticism from all servitude to the his- 
torical truth, the following may be cited: 

"Thus do they interpret the verse of Isaiah (LIV): 
Thou shall break forth on the right hand and on the left, 
and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles and make the deso- 
late cities to be inhabited.' 

" 'Whether we desire it or not, we must possess colonies; 
it is our destiny. The Dutch and the Spaniards have had 

1 O'Rell, M. (Blouet, P.), op. cit., p. u. 



42 THE ENGLISH MIND 

colonies and lost them, almost all; what paltry ones they 
have must soon cede away from them. The French vir- 
tually have none. The Germans have tried and failed, 
but the British nation has flourishing colonies in all parts 
of the world, and urgently requires more yet. The Turk- 
ish Empire is on the eve of ruin, and as Constantinople 
will be ours by right, we shall have to take immediate 
possession of it. Constantinople is the very gate of high- 
way to our largest and best foreign possession India, with 
her teeming millions and her forty distinct languages.* 

" 'The French, the Russians, the Spanish, the Chinese, 
the Dutch, the Austrians, the Germans, the Indians, and 
the Italians cannot any of them be Israel, because they 
have been defeated.' " l 

"In making the list of victorious campaigns," justly observes 
Max O'Rell, "you may notice that the Society has prudently 
omitted to mention that of the Transvaal The fact of the 
Boers having given John a sound thrashing would naturally 
have made it a little less easy to establish its thirty-third proof 
of identity." 2 

The newer times have made the unqualified doctrine of the 
chosen people a difficult, in fact, an injudicious creed for the 
English to admit to their expressions of political mysticism. 
Accordingly, some two and a half centuries after Milton for- 
mulated the chosen-people doctrine, it was reformulated and 
modernized, to the general satisfaction of "God's own Eng- 
lishman." .Intensifying his possessive complexes, the chosen- 
people complex furnishes the Englishman with a motive as 

1 Tracts published by the Anglo-Israel Identity Society and quoted by Max 
O'Rell. J 

2 O'Rell, M. (Blouet, P.), John Bull and His Island, Charles Scribner's Sons, 
1884, p. 230. 



THE GOOD MAN 43 

valuable as it is powerful for national action in the sphere of 
international politics. As Count Sforza has pointed out, an 
eminent modern writer and a distinguished modern clergy- 
man have applied themselves to the task. The writer is Rud- 
yard Kipling and the clergyman, Dean Inge. 

"Take up the White Man's burden," Kipling exhorts his 
fellow-Englishmen, who, incidentally, have been the first west- 
ern nation to conclude a military alliance with the Japanese. 

The clergyman echoes: "Our humanity is shown on a wider 
scale in the large sums of money which are raised to relieve 
any special distress in every part of the world. . . . Akin to 
humanity is an absence of vindictiveness. We have short 
memories when we have been wronged, and never make long 
plans for revenge." To fortify his contention with the help 
of a contrast, Dean Inge, happily blind to four centuries of 
conquest and misrule, adds a moral lesson for the Irishman, 
who, it is said, would refuse to go to heaven if St. Peter were 
an Englishman: "An Englishman is simply unable to compre- 
hend the brooding hatred of the Irishman, which has no better 
ground than that Cromwell exercised the laws of war some- 
what severely against the Irish rebels, and that William III 
won the battle of Boyne." 1 Perhaps one may be pardoned 
here for recalling the popular slogan: "The Englishman's pa- 
tience is long as the summer day, but the Englishman's arm 
is long as the winter night." 

The spirit that animated Admiral Wemyss was precisely 
that of Kipling and Dean Inge, when the Admiral wrote to 
his wife on August 9, 1914, from a station in the Channel 
patrol: 

"Oh, what a chance we may yet have if we are strong 
enough at the end of the war to put matters straight in 
1 England, London, Ernest Benn, 1933, pp. 53 f. 



44 THE ENGLISH MIND 

Europe. England should be, and may be, if only we go to 
work properly, the arbiter in the end, and pray God, if it 
comes to that, we may be a just one. I am beginning to 
have faith in our country once more, and that faith pro- 
duces hope. I believe that now (whatever we may have 
been in the past) we are the only country which seeks 
neither aggrandizement for ourselves nor humiliation for 
our enemy, and that is the only way in which permanent 
peace lies. After this we must have peace, and such a 
peace which cannot be broken for motives other than 
honour." l 

Whatever an impartial student of recent diplomatic history 
may know and say about Great Britain's multiple motives for 
participation in the World War and about her varied actions 
at the Peace Conference, the average Englishman, who did his 
heavy share in bringing the war to a successful end, is con- 
vinced that his country was merely answering the call received 
from Providence and from mankind to defend justice and pro- 
tect freedom against the treacherous Hun. Many Englishmen 
are profoundly disappointed with the way affairs, national and 
international, went after the World War. Yet England's po- 
litical mysticism remains in force; at all events it is stronger 
than post-war pessimism. In J. B. Priestley's English Journey 
we find a reflection which well illustrates this state of mind: 

"If we are a nation of shopkeepers, then what a shop! 
... We stagger under our inheritance. But let us burn 
every book, tear down every memorial, turn every cathe- 
dral and college into an engineering shop, rather than 
grow cold and petrify, rather than forget that inner glow- 

1 Wemyss, Lady W., The Ufc and Letters of Lord Wester Wemyss, Ad* 
miral of the Fleet, London, Eyre & Spottiswoodc, 1935, p. 168. 



THE GOOD MAN 45 

ing tradition of the English spirit. . - . We headed the 
procession when it took what we see now to be the wrong 
turning, down into the dark bog of greedy individualism, 
where money and machine are of more importance than 
men and women. It is for us to find the way out again, 
into the sunlight* We may have to risk a great deal, per- 
haps our very existence. But rather than live on meanly 
and savagely, I concluded, it would be better to perish as 
the last of the civilized peoples." x 

In the meantime, the Englishman must carry out his not 
unprofitable mission, defined with engaging awkwardness by 
H. G. Wells's Oswald Sydenham: 

" That sort of thing,' he said, 'is what we Englishmen 
are for, you know, Peter. What our sort of Englishmen 
is for anyhow. We have to go about the world and make 
roads and keep the peace and see fair play. We've got to 
kill big beasts and climb mountains. That's the job of the 
Englishman. He's a sort of policeman. A sort of work- 
ing guardian. Not a nosy slave-driver trying to get rich. 
He chases off slave-drivers. All the world's his beat 
India, Africa, China, and the East, all the seas of the 
world. This little fat green country, all trim and tidy and 
set with houses and gardens, isn't much of a land for a 
man, you know unless he is an invalid* It's a good land 
to grow up in and come back to die in. Or rest in. But 
in between, no!'" 2 

1 New York, Harper & Brothers, 1934, p. 417. 

2 Joan and Peter, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1918, p. 303. 



40 THE ENGLISH MIND 

THE IDEAL OF THE GENTLEMAN 

One aspect of the "good man," and perhaps the most inclu- 
sive, is the ideal gentleman. The concept "gentleman'* has 
undergone in the course of English social and political history 
some important modifications. 1 The origin of the term is the 
Latin word gentilis, which originally meant a person belong- 
ing to a gens, that is, to a definite tribe. This adjective de- 
noted, however, something more than mere ethnological rela- 
tionships. In the time of the migration of peoples it was a 
distinction, even more than in our time, to have an address, 
so to speak. Then gentilis meant precisely a person with an 
address, as opposed to a person without one, that is, a person 
of unknown tribal origin. Thus gentilis gradually came to 
mean persons belonging to the upper class, whose wealth and 
social position provided them with an historic address in other 
words, persons in possession of charters recording their titles 
to property, authority, and honors, no matter how acquired. 
In the early Middle Ages, "gentleman" was an inclusive term, 
nation-wide in application; it comprised all the members of a 
given tribe, or all its "nationals," Next, with the growth of 
feudalism, "gentleman" became a selective term and suffered 
considerable restriction in meaning. It denoted persons be- 
longing to the upper class, persons possessing wealth, power, 
and titles of nobility. 

Then came the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution, 
which not only created the abject lower class of an industrial 
proletariat, but also forced the land-owning upper class to 
yield the major part of its political and social power to the 
rising upper middle class of factory owners, merchants, and 

*C. Hoyler, A., Gentleman-Ideal und Gentleman-Erziehung, Leipzig, 
Felix Meiner Verlag, 1933. 



THE GOOD MAN 47 

bankers. The Industrial Revolution extended the meaning of 
the term "gentleman" to include men of wealth, who had no 
claim to "historic addresses." In other words, the term came 
to include the nouveaux riches, whose importance could not 
safely be ignored by the then ruling class of the hereditary 
aristocracy. 

The gradual democratization of the fundamental political 
institutions in England has been accompanied by an inevitable 
extension of the concept "gentleman." It is at present almost 
as all-inclusive as it was at the time when the term gentilis was 
of tribal scope. This downward extension of the use and in- 
terpretation of the concept "gentleman" shocks many English- 
men of the old school. "Nowadays," complains Mr. H. W. 
Nevinson, "the word 'gentlemen' is painted on lavatory doors, 
and the half-educated call each other gentlemen, when others 
would use the word 'man* or 'fellow.' " 1 He does not seem 
to be justified, however, in the fear "of the decline already 
threatening" in Tennyson's praise of his departed friend: 

"And thus he bore without abuse 
The grand old name of Gentleman, 
Defamed by every charlatan, 
And soil'd with all ignoble use." 2 

The all-inclusive generosity with which the term "gentle- 
man" is used in common parlance is only apparent and not 
real. In reality the term is still selective in its application, 
though the basis of selection is no longer exclusively that of 
pedigree or wealth. Some fifty years ago, Hippolyte Taine 
already noted that people, when speaking to him of this great 

1 Nevinson, H. W,, Rough Islanders, London, George Roudedge and Sons, 

1930, p. 55- 

2 In Memoriam: CXI (1850). 



40 THE ENGLISH MIND 

lord, or that diplomatist, would say, "He is no gentleman." ' 
The downward extension of the term has certainly not made 
it lax, nebulous, or meaningless. In the course of time, as 
is natural, the ideal of the gentleman has become a curious 
amalgamation of the chivalric-aristocratic concept of knight- 
errantry with the Puritan middle-class concept of the good 
man. 

In the confusion of the Industrial Revolution in the eight- 
eenth century, some of the noiweaux riches who pretended to 
the distinction of gentlemen furnished rich material for sa- 
tirical essays by copying the landed gentry's external modes 
of living, such as the late dinner, suburban residence, employ- 
ment of men-servants, and the like. 3 External qualifications, 
as the criteria of one's eligibility for the distinction of gentle- 
man, have, on the whole, become a matter of the past. It is 
as if the English came, instinctively, to understand that the 
formidable power of mechanics ushered in by the Industrial 
Revolution must be tempered by a kind of social mysticism, 
lest that power, while contributing to material civilization, 
destroy the spiritual values upon which all civilization is based. 
Leaders of English thought have traditionally understood, 
either rationally or instinctively, that moral civilization, which 
is the most valuable aspect of human progress, is, basically, of 
a mystical nature; that it depends for its existence and func- 
tioning on the individual's belief that there are values superior 
to the value of the individual's pleasure and success indeed, 
of his very life. 

Doubtless, the accidents of "good" birth, social position, 
wealth, and smartness are, in the eyes of many an English- 

1 Notes on England, cit., p. 175. 

2 Cf. Dibelius, W., England, dt. t pp. 164 ff. 



THE GOOD MAN 49 

man, essential to the dignity of a gentleman. The tendency 
of some such Englishmen "to draw this distinction is as keen 
and perhaps as instinctive as that of the old-time Southern 
negro to differentiate between 'quality' and *po' whites/" 1 
But these criteria cannot be called determinant; they are all 
accidental. The rank of gentleman must be won by each man 
for himself. 

The ideal gentleman of present-day England, or rather of 
that not insignificant portion of the English who worry them- 
selves about such matters, is very close to the old Roman ideal 
of fietas. This concept embraced not merely religious and 
filial piety, but, in general, respect for the superior permanent 
moral values. Thus "gentleman" in England means a person 
possessed of the conviction of the unchanging value of certain 
moral dicta and certain patterns and ideals of living. As a 
"duty to himself," the English gentleman observeslEe rules 
of the game, even when his conduct is not observed. 2 The 
externals such as one's bearing and manners, weight the scales 
only in so far as they reveal, however fleetingly, a superior and 
accepted scale of values, solid moral convictions, and a code of 
honor based on these fundamentals. If the word "convictions" 
should sound presumptuous in our skeptical era of mere opin- 
ions, then it may be said that a gentleman is a person of good 
taste in matters of conduct, a person who can sav of himself in 

1 Scarborough, H. E., op. cit., p. 30. 

2 Cf. the following story told by M. Ren Puaux in the Neue Freie Presse, 
June 28, 1936: "I once came across a high British official in a lonely outpost 
on the upper course of the Nile. He was the only white man within a 
radius of 125 miles. He shaved every morning and donned a dinner-jacket 
for his lonely dinner every evening. It was a case of doing his duty to him- 
self, he explained to me, a sort of ethical self-discipline. Later in the evening, 
when he was having his glass of whiskey on the veranda of his bungalow 
under the starlit sky, he did not pretend to meditate over philosophical prob- 
lems. He was conscious of being an English gentleman and this was enough 
for him." 



50 THE ENGLISH MIND 

the words of Anatole France: "I understand all, but there are 
things which are disgusting to me*" l 

The gentleman's code of conduct is, then, in the last analysis, 
a loyal and voluntary conformity to certain customs and insti- 
tutions of the country, which are regarded as fundamental 
and opposition to which is considered bad taste the avoidance 
of that which is "not done," and if done, would cost one his 
caste of gentleman. Such is the established code, despite the 
fact that some English gentlemen may pretend, out of intel- 
lectual coquetry perhaps, that they are through-and-through 
individualists and non-conformists. The reverent attitude to- 
ward what the ancient Romans called mos maiorum, the ways 
of the ancestors, tradition, also seems to be a basic element. A 
gentleman is one who may finish by conceding, after careful 
consideration, the necessity of changing a tradition, but would 
never begin by wantonly discarding one. There is a price to 
pay for this ideal of the gentleman, the thing being well worth 
the price, to be sure; the price is the narrowing, tedium- 
producing effect of conformity. 

Among the qualifications of a gentleman, patriotism should 
be named next. A true gentleman must be prepared to yield 
private interests, in time of crisis, to the country's collective 
good; he must, further, have a proud and pious affection for 
England, and a sort of mystic attachment to the English soil, 
a sentiment similar to that expressed by Wordsworth in his 
Poems Dedicated to National Independence and Liberty: 

"Thou art free, 

My country! and 'tis joy enough and pride 
For one hour's perfect bliss, to tread the grass 
Of England once again." 

1 Histoire comique, Paris, Calmann-Levy, p. 9. 



THE GOOD MAN 51 

Another important trait of the gentleman is his horror of 
flippant agnosticism and, still more, of outspoken atheism. 
Certainly, in England, as elsewhere, religion has suffered from 
the temporary, and not unarrogant, triumph of the natural 
sciences over metaphysics. On the other hand, while people 
are gradually discovering for themselves the impotence of sci- 
ence as a substitute for religion as the philosophy of life and 
while they are finding out that, in Lord Balfour's words, it is 
more difficult to view the universe without the Creator than 
with Him, the ground is preserved on which the regeneration 
of religion can and will be made. This ground consists of a 
respectful attitude toward established mores. Even the most 
convinced agnostics must practice such an attitude, if they 
aspire to the distinction of gentlemen. Agnosticism and athe- 
ism must keep within the bounds of discreet discussion. No 
gentleman would permit himself flippantly or bombastically to 
attack religion before those whose limited education or imma- 
turity might expose their simple faith to the danger of being 
overpowered by scientific theory. It will not do, either, to pro- 
fess hedonistic appetites. England subjects to serious modifi- 
cation Voltaire's rule that "all styles are good which are not 



tiresome." 



Among the implied and subsidiary articles of the gentle- 
man's code of honor the following may be mentioned: 

"A gentleman, we think, should not advertise, or be 
pushing, assertive, forensic, histrionic. He should have 
little to say of himself, should consume his own smoke 
and refrain from boring his neighbours or forcing their 
attention either upon his own happiness or his own trou- 
bles. He claims no superiority. The discovery of his 
merits he leaves to his fellows. Of impudence and imper- 



52 THE ENGLISH MIND 

tinence he has a horror. Both meanness and ostentation 
are foreign to his nature. Obliging but not effusive, re- 
served rather than expansive, he is careful to avoid wound- 
ing the susceptibilities of others, and would rather suffer 
an injury than inflict one. If he is not a hero, and a hero 
he need not to be, he will never be a coward. He has at 
least too much respect for himself to run away. He may 
shudder at danger, but he will go to the rescue, . . . Add 
to this a courteous attitude to human beings in general, 
and to women in particular, of whom he takes the chiv- 
alric rather than the realistic view, and we have some of 
the components of this ideal conception. ... He must 
have refinement if not intellectual attainments, courtesy if 
not fortune, manners if not birth. There are certain 
things impossible to him, cruelty, inhumanity, taking ad- 
vantage of the weakness or folly of others, acting a part, 
striking attitudes. His manner to his inferiors is indis- 
tinguishable from his manners to his superiors. ... A 
certain easiness of demeanor belongs to him, a sort of 
negligence which declines to exaggerate the importance 
of anything to the point of excitement, irritation or fury 
about it, and thus excludes fanaticism, murders, re- 
venges" * 

A student of comparative national psychology aptly sum- 
marized the English ideal of the gentleman as follows: 

"One may be born rich or noble, but one is not born a 
gentleman. . . . 

"The gentleman recalls the sage of the Stoics, the type 
of that which one ought to be. It is better if he has means 

1 Dixon, W. M., The Englishman, New York, Longmans, Green & Co., 
1931, pp. 84 f. 



THE GOOD MAN 53 

and is well-born, but this is not absolutely indispensable; 
it is difficult but not impossible for him to be a merchant 
or a manufacturer. If he has to earn his living, he must 
maintain his pride, his reserve, his superiority to fortune 
and circumstances and present his bills, like an artist or 
a physician, with a sort of haughty modesty, counting on 
the delicacy of other people, never confessing his troubles, 
his needs or anxieties, or anything that would make him 
inferior to those whose esteem he claims and whose com- 
miseration he rejects. The true gentleman is, or should 
appear to be, above any constraint; he has no master, and 
he acts only from condescension or a sense of duty. No 
man can command him in any way, and, when he obeys, 
he obeys an impersonal law, or a promise that he has 
given, or a contract he has accepted; in short, he obeys 
only himself, only what he recognizes as just and equit- 
able and not any despotism whatever. 'Dieu et mon 
droit' is his motto. The gentleman is decidedly the free 
man, the man who is stronger than things and who feels 
that personality surpasses all the accessory attributes of 
fortune, health, rank, power, etc., and is the essential 
fact, the intrinsic and real worth of the individual. . . . 
The gentleman is the man who is master of himself, who 
respects himself and makes himself respected. His es- 
sential trait is therefore inner sovereignty. He is a self- 
possessed character, a force that governs himself, a free 
agent who affirms himself and manifests and rules him- 
self by the standards of dignity. This ideal is therefore 
very close to the Roman type of the Ingenuus consciens 
et compos sui and of the dignitas cum auctoritate. This 
ideal is more moral than intellectual. It is suitable to 
England, whoseQspecial trait is wilL} But from self-respect 



54 THE ENGLISH MIND 

a thousand things derive, such as the care of one's person, 
of one's language and manner, vigilance over body and 
soul, control of one's instincts and one's passions, the de- 
sire to be self-sufficient, the pride that neither exacts nor 
wishes favours, the care not to expose oneself to any 
humiliation or any mortification, by avoiding the least 
dependence on human caprice, the constant preservation 
of one's honour and one's self-esteem: altogether the Eng- 
lish type of the sage. This sovereignty not being easy for 
any but the man who is well-born, well-bred and rich, 
was at first identified with birth, rank, and especially 
property. The idea of the gentleman thus derives from 
feudalism; it is a mollification of seigniory." 1 

It may be said in general that one requirement which the 
Englishman must satisfy in order to be classified as a gentle- 
man is earnestness of purpose in spcech_andjn..dggd> It is 
in England that the echo of the celebrated Roman gravitas 
seems to be best preserved. The English code of good con- 
duct, while encouraging reasonable gaiety and humor, frowns 
at anything that might look like trifling with the sacra, the 
fundamental institutions, beliefs, and customs consecrated by 
long usage. The Englishman abhors anything that smacks 
of nihilism, even when the latter is practiced as a pastime, 
as an intellectual sport. There are, to the Englishman, cer- 
tain things about which he does not want to be clever, to make 
jokes himself, or to hear jokes, even very brilliant ones, made 
by others. 

To appreciate this interesting and ycry English character- 
istJC|4ntellectual "gravity," it may be useful to glanceUliome 

1 From The Private Journal of Henri F. Amiel, edited by Van Wyck 
Brooks and Charles Van Wyck, New York, 1935, pp. 213 ff . By permission 
of The Macmillan Company, publishers. 



THE GOOD MAN 55 

recent intellectual movements in England. The history of 
these movements seems to show that even the more radically 
minded English intellectuals are reluctant to trifle with the 
real fundamentals of English life, as they are shy of recom- 
mending that even their own theories be carried out to their 
logical conclusion. They prefer a compromise, which would 
spare as much of the past as possible, as did John Wycliffe, one 
of the earliest English radicals: 

"He was no less of a revolutionary in political than in 
religious doctrine. Not only did he denounce the anomaly 
of a wealthy priesthood, but he arraigned the whole insti- 
tution of property as inconsistent with the preaching and 
practice of Him who had not where to lay His head, and 
whose followers brought their goods to a common stock. 
Wycliffe, however, was no Tolstoi, to follow such prin- 
ciples to their logical conclusion, and the practical conse- 
quences of his theory evidently frightened the Master of 
Balliol and Rector of Lutterworth. So, like the practical 
Englishman he was at heart, he got out of the difficulty by 
a subterfuge which, though it had been employed by all 
trimmers since the world began, has never, except by 
Wycliffe, been frankly formulated. 'God,' he says, 'must 
serve the Devil,' much as Wycliffe himself served that 
arch-intriguer, John of Gaunt, even to the extent of apol- 
ogizing for his patron's murder of a man in a church 
where he had taken sanctuary. It is not necessary to fol- 
low Wycliffe further through the windings from which 
he manages to escape from communistic idealism to a 
comfortable acceptance of things as they are." 1 

1 Wingficlci-Stratford, E., The History of British Civilization, New York, 
Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1930, p. 262. 



56 THE ENGLISH MIND 

At the turn of the century, three intellectuals of fairly 
moderate views were vying for leadership. They were George 
Meredith, H. G. Wells, and Bernard Shaw, Helped by Swin- 
burne's "school of the flesh" and the "esthetes" of the school 
of Oscar Wilde and D. G. Rossetti, who both preached "free- 
dom from the seven deadly virtues," these brilliant intellec- 
tuals, to borrow from the picturesque phrasing of Professor 
Cazamian, directed their criticism at the very "pillars, im- 
mutable and naked, constituted by the beliefs, sentiments, and 
prejudices of John Bull. * . . These critics, through their 
mercilessly acid animadversions, aimed not only at the radical 
change of the external institutional bases of English life, but 
also at its persistent foundations, the national character or 
psychology. Family, marriage, patriotism, religion, and the 
gentleman's code of morals were subjected, together with 
property rights, to clever and acid mirth," 1 Essays, novels, 
plays poured forth, attacking all the traditional orthodoxies. 
The formation of an English "bohemia & la franfaise" was 
hailed, prematurely, by the Continental boheme. The labors 
of a young man from Dublin, Mr. Bernard Shaw, were espe- 
cially ardent and well pointed, and he soon became one of the 
leading lights of a socialistic group, composed chiefly of the 
radically inclined "suburbans," 2 that is, the middle-class "in- 
telligentsia." 

The radical movement in England at the end of the nine- 
teenth and the beginning of the twentieth century convinced 
more than one foreign observer that deep cracks were opening 
in the impressive front of England's political stability and of 

1 Cazamian, L., L'Angletcm modern?: son evolution, Paris, Flammarion, 
1916, pp. 294 ft 
2 Cf. Masterman, C. F. G., The Condition of England, cit. t pp. 68ft 



THE GOOD MAN 57 

her solid mores. Skepticism, search for pleasure, pursuit of 
lines of least resistance and similar rifts, which foreign ob- 
servers, and not unfriendly ones, thought they could see in 
the armor of English mores, led them to ask the question, 
whether England were not entering upon a new period of 
history the period of fatal decline. This question has been 
answered with unmistakable clarity by the conduct of. Eng- 
land during the World War and its aftermath. During this 
era, when several empires fell, and when England's friends as 
well as her enemies passed through the convulsions of read- 
justment, and in some cases through the pangs of open revolu- 
tion, England continued her steady course of adaptation and 
remained practically free from all foundation-shaking con- 
cussions. 

What interests us, however, in particular at this step of our 
study, is the fate which the intransigent rationalism of the 
school of Meredith, Wells, and Shaw met at the hands of the 
English reading public. The influence of these critics re- 
mained very limited. The "gravity," characteristic of the Eng- 
lish, made it impossible to create even among the intellectuals 
a movement comparable to that created at the same time in 
Russia by the gentle, visionary Tolstoists, the coarse "prole- 
tarian" realists of the school of Gorky, by the polished skeptics, 
the mystic pessimists, or proud sensualists of the school of 
Chekhov, Andreyev, and Artzybashev. The case of Mr. Shaw 
is particularly instructive and revealing. A man of many 
talents, he lacked, in an extraordinary degree, the qualities 
demanded by the Englishman of the gentleman in particular 
the restraint and "gravity," as defined above. And the result 
is the practically complete failure of his crusade against ortho- 
doxies. In the words of Professor Wingfield-Stratford: 



>8 THE ENGLISH MIND 

"Mr, Shaw was an ardent and entirely sincere believer 
in his message, but so anxious was he to get it before the 
public that he shrank from no means of booming it, and, 
in consequence, missed his desired end altogether, being 
reverently invested, in lieu of the prophet's robe, with the 
cap and bells of a licensed Merry Andrew. By dashing on 
to paper any epigram or argument calculated to raise a 
laugh or an eyebrow, he undoubtedly won his way to 
European fame, he found scope and audience for his 
dramatic genius, he exercised a destructive influence com- 
parable to that of Voltaire, but when he turned to the most 
important part of his work, the reconstruction of faith and 
society he was as one that mocked." x 

Long, arduous, and dangerous wars always produce in the 
belligerent countries a reappraisal of values and an earnest 
desire for reform, as well as selfish moods of libertinism. This 
has occurred after all important wars of recorded history, be- 
ginning with the Greco-Persian conflict; and this is exactly 
what happened in England, among the other belligerent coun- 
tries, as a result of the World War and its aftermath. A re- 
newed wave of earnest criticism and of sheer licentiousness 
as well came upon England. The strength of this new fer- 
mentation equaled, if not surpassed, that which had occurred 
at the turn of the century. But, again, its menace was rapidly 
counteracted by the strength of English "gravity," manifested 
not only by the middle class but also by influential intellectuals 
themselves, the very proponents of the new ways of living* 
To be sure, time has changed the modes of living even in 
England, but the change is less deep-going than in other 
western lands. England is today, as it was three hundred years 

1 The History of British Civilization, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 
1930, pp. 1144 . 



THE GOOD MAN 59 

ago, at the time of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), more 
puritanic and possessed of more "gravity" than any other con- 
temporary western land. 

Certainly, there are writers in England, who, in their theory 
of "free flesh," of "natural life," far overstep the boundaries 
set for such matters by the English sense of "gravity." The 
average English reader, however, finds the school of James 
Joyce unbearably "cloaca!" the expression used by H. G. 
Wells, himself a prophet of the new day and one who is free 
from all dyed-in-the-wool prudishness. But then, again, the 
outstanding post-war apostles of new ways show themselves, 
upon a closer examination, quite moderate and possessed of 
"gravity," and of a good dose of Wycliffean prudence. 

In general, the English have suffered through the World 
War derangement many casualties, political and moral, as have 
other nations. But these casualties were not numerous enough 
to create a general confusion. While some young people have, 
like the dog in a recent fable, 1 eaten their labels and lost all 
sense of direction, their number is not enough seriously to 
deflect traffic from the tried and traditional lines. And that 
this should be so is, in large part, due to the "gravity" of the 
best of the contemporary English prophets of "a new life," 
who have turned their backs on nihilistic and revolutionary 
frolics. 

Mr. Alec Waugh, of Soho, is a typical case in point. Do you 
remember the passage in Myself When Young, describing a 
studio party given by an obscure musician who "was celebrat- 
ing his wife's elopement" ? 

"The atmosphere was thick. The floor was covered 
with cigarette ends and the splinters of broken glass. In 

1 Vachcll, A. R, Arising, cit. f p. 291. 



60 THE ENGLISH MIND 

various corners of the room partially inebriated couples 
were lost to the world in amorous abandon. An un- 
washed, unshaven Italian was strumming on a fiddle. 
There was a little dancing. A number of loose-collared 
Americans were talking in art jargon at the top of their 
voices. In a deep armchair, his nose broken, his forehead 
and eyebrows cut and swollen, a man slept. Whether he 
had disputed a brother artist's claim to lady's favour, or 
whether his legs had been unequal to their task and he 
had collapsed upon a broken bottle, I was unable to dis- 
cover. At any rate, he slept. He was a loathsome sight. 
But I was impressed. I was just free from the shackles of 
military discipline and etiquette. Here, I thought, was 
life. Here was a society that had won to freedom, that 
was divorced from all preconceived opinions, from every 
superimposed tradition of taste and conduct. It was, in- 
deed, somewhat a shock to me that the only man in the 
room who appeared to possess a razor should say in a very 
dry voice, 'What a show. Look at all these idiots pretend- 
ing to be Dostoieff skies.' " l 

An interesting, though indirect, witness to the reaffirmation 
of the traditional ideal of the gentleman and of conservatism 
among the thinking young people in England is to be found 
in a communistic study of the British "intelligentsia." The 
communistic writer sees, of course, in this return to soundness 
and equilibrium a new expression of the horrible depravity 
of capitalism: 

"After the war, when conversions to Catholicism grew 
more frequent, it was the yearning for discipline, for 

1 Myself When young, New York, Brentano's, 1924, pp. 211-212; published 
by Coward-McCann. 



THE GOOD MAN 6l 

authority, for a complete conception of life, which pro- 
vided the chief motive. Intellectuals laid waste by the 
crisis of capitalism passed through a phase of turning in- 
wards, of desire to live by their own inward values, and so 
came to feeling the burden of their loneliness, their lack 
of a great mother to whom to confess. They grew thirsty 
for an outward authority which might save them from 
that wild search for peace and from that awful hopeless 
isolation. And as the crisis deepened we have been able 
to witness how this purely subjective psychological attrac- 
tion to authority gradually merged into the direct fascina- 
tion of the bourgeois intelligentsia and the growing sense 
of discipline to their class." x 

While there are in England, and of course will always be, 
individuals and groups who profess and even practice 
pessimism, relativism, and skepticism intermingled with sens- 
ualism, yet in all probability they are a smaller fraction of 
the population than in other lands. Such groups are found, 
for instance, among the university youth, perhaps largely 
members of land-owning families whose economic situation 
has been seriously undermined by the post-war fiscal policies, 
in particular under the Labour cabinets. Alan Johnson's sym- 
posium of the outlook of British youth 2 is a mournful as well 
as truthful echo of the moods of those young people who 
"deny universal beliefs," are not "serious or earnest, but cynical 
and disillusioned"; whose attitude is "one of sheer hopeless- 
ness, of conviction of the futility of action, of all attempts to 
set the world right." Some individuals respond only too 
eagerly to the advice "to live with the whole of our bodies, not 

1 Mirsky, D., The Intelligentsia of Great Britain, New York, Covici Friede, 

I935 P- ijfo. 

2 Growing Opinions, London, Methuen & Co., 1935. 



62 THE ENGLISH MIND 

only with our heads." There are found in England "rootless 
intellectuals . . . terribly knowing and disillusioned and con- 
scientiously indecent," who take nothing for granted except 
"their surpassing intelligence" 1 "exotic individuals," as the 
Archbishop of Canterbury characterized them in his criticism 
of the former King Edward VIH's associates. This tendency is, 
however, more than offset by the healthy and optimistic trends 
among the youth of the day. A great many of these seem 
inclined to accept such appeals as that made by C. E. M, Joad, 
in The Future of Morals, "to take once more the gods of our 
grandfathers from the shelves on which our fathers have placed 
them the gods of simplicity and earnestness, of authority and 
leadership; even it would seem of faith." It is precisely in 
the realm of faith that refreshing signs of liquidation of the 
post-war vogue of exaggerated relativism, skepticism, and 
egotistical hedonism are forthcoming. The Oxford Move- 
ment, infused with religious ardor and loyalty to the funda- 
mental unchanging moral values of life, and also the tangible 
revival of Catholicism bear witness to this new trend of 
thought in England. 

As Paul von Meissner writes in a penetrating survey of these 
intellectual and moral developments in post-war England: 

"The English public is tired of experiments, in the suc- 
cess of which it does not any longer believe* Prudence 
makes its voice strong again; the old forces which have 
several times in the course of history stood England in 
good stead are brought forth once more. The goal is, to 
be sure, still distant, and the Britannia felix of the good 
old days is still more a wish than a reality. It is, however, 
not to be doubted that the will to terminate the crisis of 

1 Buchan, J., The Man from the Norlands, dt. f p. 119. 



THE GOOD MAN 63 

pessimism has already lent to English life an unusually 
stimulating impetus." x 

Mr. John Macmurray's explanation of the failure of com- 
munism to take foothold in England also seems to merit 
quotation: 

"It is the religious character of the English values which 
explains the failure of communistic theory to make much 
impression upon the British working classes. They tend 
to judge religiously, that is to say, in terms of direct rela- 
tion between man and man. When the communistic 
agitator seeks to increase the sentiment of class antago- 
nism between the worker and the employer by describing 
the wickedness of the capitalist exploiter, he is faced with 
people whose natural reaction is to say: *We know the 
people you are talking about, and they are not like that/ 
The British working class is thoroughly sensitive to the 
injustices of the system of exploitation under which it 
lives. But it is also highly sensitive to the great amount 
of good-will and kindness that is to be found in its rela- 
tions with those human beings who happen to be capital- 
ists, often through no fault of their own. It is the funda- 
mental importance of those personal, or rather inter-per- 
sonal, values for the English which offers such a stubborn 
resistance to the effort to inculcate a theory, based upon 
purely economic interests, which ignores them. Conse- 
quently, the Labour Party and the various socialist parties 
of this country are little touched by its pure economic 
theories of Marxism." * 

1 "Das geistige England der Gegenwart," Die neueren Sprachen, 1936, Heft 
6, SS. 241-260, csp. S. 241. 

2 Macmurray, J., Creative Society, A Study of the Relation of Christianity 
to Communism, New York, Association Press, 1936, pp. 167 f. 



64 THE ENGLISH MIND 

FAIR PLAY AND THE DOUBLE STANDARD 
OF JUDGMENT 

There are two attributes of good character which the aver- 
age Englishman is inclined to think his nation possesses in a 
degree almost equal to monopoly. These attributes are fair 
play and stamina. As we shall have occasion to discuss the 
stamina in our study of education for leadership, we now 
confine ourselves to fair play, which the English would per- 
suade the world is pre-eminently an English quality. 

It is doubtful whether commercial competition in England 
is any more tender-hearted or gentle than in any other coun- 
try, but in matters of national politics and in the inevitable 
political competition, the English have developed an admirable 
code of fair play. Dictators are amazed each time that honors 
for members of the Opposition are recommended in England 
by the party in power. While in England leaders of the Op- 
position are raised to knighthood, in countries ruled by dic- 
tators they are flung into concentration camps, or "liquidated." 
This very English way of "playing the game," a remarkably 
sound and fertile custom productive of political stability and 
social peace, is a constant lesson, not only to dictators but 
also to democratic and parliamentary governments in foreign 
countries. 

* Social justice toward the underprivileged has shown, since 
the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, when 
laws relative to social insurance were enacted in England, 
evidence of superior, though still imperfect, political thinking 
and economic organization. With regard to the administra- 
tion of legal justice, though England is of course not entirely 
free from unjust judges and bad laws, English jurisprudence 
has made for itself a well-deserved reputation for incorruptibil- 



THE GOOD MAN 65 

ity and uprightness. Napoleon could not have paid England 
a higher compliment than he did when after his second ab- 
dication he sought to put himself under the protective hand 
of the English law. Before surrendering to the English and 
boarding the Betterophon, he wrote the following letter to the 
Prince Regent: 

"YOUR ROYAL HIGHNESS: 

"Being prosecuted by the factions which tear asunder 
my country and by the animosity of the greatest European 
Powers, I have ended my political career and, like a new 
Themistocles, I am going to seek a place by the fire-side 
of the English nation. I am putting myself under the 
protection of the laws of England, for which protection 
I beseech my strongest and most constant but also my 
most generous enemy. 

Island of Aix, July 13, 1815, 
(Signed) NAPOLEON." * 

While held for some time at Plymouth on board the English 
man-of-war which was to carry him to Saint Helena, the de- 
posed emperor sought by many subterfuges to obtain permis- 
sion to go ashore. He had been advised by his lawyer that 
once on English soil he was subject to English law and could 
claim its protection; a court would order his captors to show 
on what count he could be made prisoner and sent to Saint 
Helena. Thus the immeasurably ambitious Corsican of genius, 
who more than once during his astounding career had ruth- 
lessly flouted all laws, divine and human, sought the protec- 
tion of English justice when the game was lost. 2 

1 Aubry, (X, "Vers Sainte-Helene," Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 decembre 
1933, p. 843. 

2 Op. Git., Revue des Deux Mondes f i cr Janvier 1934, p. no. 



66 THE ENGLISH MIND 

These English forms of fair play, social justice, and de- 
pendable legal justice came into being as a result of a long 
and laborious process of social struggle and adjustment* When 
the English of today haughtily compare their customs of fair- 
mindedness and fair play with "oriental" treacheries and 
cruelties, they conveniently forget their own history or are 
ignorant of it. The truth of the matter is that less than one 
hundred years ago the social history of England was scarcely 
less stained with innocent blood than was that of many other 
countries. The "fair land of England" was anything but fair 
to not a few of her sons. To many of them, she was, in the 
words of Carlyle, "torpid, gluttonous, sooty, swollen, and 
squalid England," given up to "deaf stupidities." l To the 
children in the factories and to the pauperized laborers 
in the villages it was, as Matthew Arnold notes, a "brazen 
prison." 2 

Professor F. A. Ogg summarizes the situation of the "lower" 
classes at the time of the Industrial Revolution as follows: 

"In 1802 Sir Robert Peel directed the attention of Parlia- 
ment to an abuse which was perhaps the grossest of the 
day, *'.<?., the miserable condition of apprentices in cotton 
mills. ... In their anxiety to relieve the ratepayers the 
authorities of the parishes, it developed, were accustomed 
to dispose of pauper children as apprentices, transporting 
them to the mills, where, while nominally learning a trade, 
they were reduced to veritable slavery. Men made a busi- 
ness of procuring and supplying apprentices, bringing to- 
gether groups of workhouse children from neighboring 
parishes and conveying them by wagons or canal boats 
1 Quoted in Masterman, C. F. G., op. cit. t p. 6, 



THE GOOD MAN 67 

to factory districts where they were likely to be in de- 
mand, and subsequently disposing of them on the best 
terms possible to factory owners in need of 'hands. 5 Ap- 
prentices were lodged and fed, under conditions that were 
execrable, in cheap houses adjoining the factories; they 
were placed in charge of overseers whose pay was de- 
pendent upon the amount of work they could compel to 
be accomplished; they were flogged, fettered, and tortured, 
and in general subjected to repression and cruelty." x 

Professor Wingfield-Stratford, a British historian, describes 
as follows the "fair play" on the part of the ruling classes in 
England, who "having eyes saw not and having hearts felt 
not": 

"Even in the best times the lot of those who were hired 
to tend the machines was grim enough. There is no need 
to detail here the oft-told story of the horrors of mine and 
factory life. Owing to the frantic increase of population, 
which was doubled in less than three generations, and the 
influx of multitudes of Irish peasants, who could work and 
live for next to nothing, the labour market was nearly 
always glutted, and until 1825 the men were not even al- 
lowed to combine to obtain decent terms. As in the coun- 
try, the workers were forced down to a subsistence level 
of wages which itself was continually being depressed. 
The hours they laboured were too long and the nourish- 
ment they obtained usually too small to support a normal 
existence. In the cotton trade it was said that a spinner 
seldom survived the age of forty. The generations were 
cut short before their time, and it was perhaps better to 

1 From Economic Development of Modern Europe, by F. A. Ogg, New 
York, 1917, p. 373. By permission of The Macmillan Company, publishers. 



68 THE ENGLISH MIND 

die early than to eke out an existence in which such phys- 
ical hardship was aggravated by a slavish discipline, and 
in which even the miserable pittance was cut down by con- 
stant arbitrary fines. 

"Grimmest of all was the lot of children who were 
herded into the factories almost as soon as they could 
walk, whose hours were from five in the morning till 
seven or nine at night, in a steaming and overheated at- 
mosphere and amid unfenced machinery into which the 
poor little victims often dropped through sheer exhaustion, 
or imprisoned alone and in the dark down in the bowels 
of the earth. Every species of cruelty had to be practised 
to keep them up to the mark; the employer would often 
wait with a horsewhip in the small hours of the morning 
to flog the half drowsed infants into their daily Hell, and 
as the day went on and agonized appeals for the time were 
heard, conscientious foremen would apply the scourge 
with ever more industrious assiduity until the bruised and 
haggard little boys and girls reeled home for a few hours* 
insufficient sleep, broken by dreams of the day's torture. 
The parents, where they were not brutalized by their own 
misery out of all natural feeling, watched with bleeding 
hearts the sacrifice of their children, but the industrial 
Moloch was inexorable, it was a choice between Hell and 
starvation conscientious overseers would not grant relief 
to idle hands, however diminutive." l 

It is also true that the English, while professing the tender- 
est interest in animals of all sorts, have made the slaughter of 
game for sport a fashionable pastime. Similarly, humane, 

1 Wingfield-Stratford, E., The History of British Civilization, New York, 
Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1930, pp, 888 f. 



THE GOOD MAN 69 

though never "soft," treatment of persons accused of crime has 
not always been the happy tradition of English jurisprudence. 
In the centuries not so distantly past, English courts, as any 
one can gather from a grim display of execution bills in the 
basement of the London Museum and from a visit to the 
Bloody Tower, employed means of correction which might put 
to shame "oriental" specialists in torture. In the words of 
Sir Basil Thomson: 

"At the opening of the nineteenth century a hundred 
and sixty offences were recognized as punishable with 
death. ... It is difficult to realize that in the lifetime of 
our grandparents a man might be hanged if he appeared 
in disguise in a public road; if he cut down young trees; if 
he shot rabbits; if he poached game at night; if he re- 
turned to England from transportation before the end of 
his sentence; if, being a gypsy, he remained in the same 
place for twelve months. It was even a capital offence to 
break down the embankment of a fishpond and let the 
fish escape; to cut down a fruit tree in a garden or orchard; 
to steal a handkerchief of above the value of one shilling 
from another man's pocket." 1 

All this does not, however, invalidate the fact that in recent 
times England has developed, with relation to inevitable 
political and economic conflicts within the nation, a greater 
degree of fair play than any other country of western civi- 
lization. On the other hand, it is equally true that English 
fair play in international affairs is subject to the "limitations 
of the group." English diplomacy has certainly been subject 

1 From The Story of Scotland Yard, by Sir Basil Thomson, pp. 91 f ., copy- 
right 1935, 1936, reprinted with permission by Doubleday, Doran and Co., 
Inc., New York. 

NM-6 



70 THE ENGLISH MIND 

to what may be called the double standard of judgment, to no 
less degree than any other imperialistic power. 

There is much truth in the thesis developed by several 
thinkers of the past and ably reviewed in Dr. Reinhold Nic- 
buhr's study, Moral Man and Immoral Society. When the 
collective interests of his country are concerned, the average 
man's conception of justice, decency, fairness, and moderation 
is frequently very different from his conception of all these 
virtues when his country is a disinterested observer of an inter- 
national event; so the moral standards of the national group 
are different from the standards employed by the same men 
in their private affairs. To borrow from a Scottish preacher, 
"The Almighty is compelled to do many things in his of- 
feecial capacity which he would scorn to do as a private in- 
dividual." 1 The story of the double standard of judgment 
in English foreign policies is too well known to need elabora- 
tion here. 2 

Swift in his Art of Political Lying observed: "Who first 
reduced lying into an art, and adapted it to politicks, is not 
so clear from history, although I have made some diligent in- 
quiries." 8 The history of international rivalries has been 
made no simpler by the course of events in the past two hun- 
dred years. Every nation that has risen to power and prestige 
has contributed its part to diplomatic craftiness, and certainly 
England's share of guile has not been least among the na- 
tions; in the international arena her claim to the distinction 
of the country of fair play is incontrovertibly questioned by 
the extent of her possessions. 

In the realm of private morals, however, England's stand- 

1 Inge, W. R., More Lay Thoughts of a Dean, New York, G. P. Putnam's 
Sons, 1932, p. 147. 



2 See our Shackled Diplomacy, cit., pp. 41 ff., 213 ff. 
8 Swift, J., Ww\s, London, 1765, Vol. VIII, p, 10. 



THE GOOD MAN Jl 

ards are enviable. A succinct statement of the British concep- 
tion of the good man may be drawn from a characteristic code 
attributed to George V: 

"Teach me to be obedient to the rules of the game. 

"Teach me to distinguish between sentiment and senti- 
mentality, admiring the one and despising the other. 

"Teach me neither to proffer nor to receive cheap praise. 

"If I am called upon to suffer, let me be like a well- 
bred beast that goes away to suffer in silence. 

"Teach me to win, if I may; if I may not, teach me to 
be a good loser. 

"Teach me neither to cry for the moon nor to cry over 
spilt milk." 



Chapter II 
THE MATURE MAN OF ACTION 

ENGLISH CONSERVATISM 

IT HAS become a common practice among students of the 
comparative psychology of nations to define the Englishman 
as a man of action. The British Empire, forged as it has been 
in such large part by self-appointed amateurs, bears impres- 
sive testimony to the native genius for action. The accepted 
formula, however, is subject to improvement; it is still more 
useful as a key to the complexities of the English national 
character if we further qualify the Englishman as a mature 
man of action. 

Indeed, the distinguishing mark of the Englishman as a man 
of action lies in his frugality; he is imbued with an admirable 
sense of economy of force. The English language is best 
adapted, in the very brevity of its Anglo-Saxon words, for 
brief, clear orders or directions. The Englishman is a mature 
man of action who rarely, if ever, yields to those outbursts of 
primitive passion which in other countries so often undo the 
results of the methodical labor of generations of men. Na- 
tional restraint and discipline appear to be the secret of the 
impressive fruitfulness of the Englishman's activity in the 
modern world. 

We propose in the present chapter to study some of the more 
important manifestations of the Englishman's mature sense of 

73 



74 THE ENGLISH MIND 

economy of action, namely, English conservatism, the art of 
compromise, emotional control, and the national sense of 
hierarchy. We shall begin with a brief analysis of English 
conservatism. 

An ingrained reluctance to undo what has been done, to 
relinquish a passable reality for an untried Utopia, may serve 
to explain why England has so markedly surpassed each and 
every one of her contemporaries on the Continent in inter- 
national prestige, if not in actual strength. The English have 
outdistanced their closest rivals, some of whom, like the Ger- 
mans, are more numerous, or, like the French, were more 
numerous at the end of the eighteenth and in the first quarter 
of the nineteenth century; and this because the English to a 
smaller extent than any other nation have imitated Penelope, 
The other European nations only too frequently destroy in the 
night of unrest and agitation of revolution or dictatorship 
or fruitless war the tissue of progress laboriously produced 
during the day of constructive effort and healthy inspira- 
tion. 

The English have understood better than any other nation 
that continuity is a virtue, and that each generation is fortified 
against the various adversities of life if it preserves the results 
of the effort expended by former generations. The English 
people may preserve some unnecessary and even undesirable 
customs, institutions, and laws, but this drawback does not 
appear too high a price for their power of preserving social 
and national continuity. It is said that the House of Lords 
owes its existence to the English taste for antiquities and 
curiosities. This English characteristic, perhaps, was what 
inspired Emerson to write in his English Traits: "The Eng- 
lish power resides also in their dislike of change " The Eng- 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 75 

lish seem to have felt throughout their history that man's de- 
sire for the durability of his creations is a supremely important 
human quality, and one which has contributed largely to his 
superiority over the lower animals. In the animal kingdom 
each family begins, in its effort of self-assertion against the 
external world, almost exactly where its distant ancestors 
began; the lower animals thus practice the most wasteful and 
disastrous kind of originality. 

The well-known English fondness for durable things is fre- 
quently portrayed in English literature. An episode in 
Kipling's Actions and Reactions may be recalled. George 
Chapin, a young country gentleman, had ordered Cloke, the 
caretaker, to rebuild a footbridge. George thought that larch- 
poles were good enough for the purpose. This was not the 
opinion of Cloke, who showed deferential but unmistakable 
disgust at the idea of "a temp'ry job" and was strongly for six- 
by-eight oak timbers. His employer's rejoinder that they were 
not building a railway bridge and that in America "half-a- 
dozen two-by-four bits would be ample" left the good man 
unmoved from his forecast to the effect that failing to use oak 
the job would have to be done again by the time the young 
master a baby at the time was married. "You have no call 
to regard my words, but you can't get out of this," concluded 
the old undiluted Briton. Conquering his impatience, young 
and traveled George conceded resignedly: "No ... I have 
been realizing this for some time. Make it oak then; we can't 
get out of it." x 

Steadiness is respected in England as an indispensable virtue. 
"Steady, girl/' the cockney horse-cab driver used to admonish 

1 Kipling, R., Actions and Reactions, New York, Doubleday, Doran & Co., 
1909, p- 53- 



76 THE ENGLISH MIND 

his impatient horse. His successor, the cockney chauffeur, 
stifles foreign curiosity as to the reason of some English prac- 
tices, like the left-hand traffic turns, with the words: "O Lord, 
sir, it was always so!" King and commoner unite in the love 
of established custom; a king that would disregard an im- 
portant traditional standard, though personally popular, must 
go, as the abrupt termination of the reign of Edward VIII 
demonstrated. Arnold Bennett's Darius Clayhanger "did not 
buy more new things than he could help." He preferred 
second-hand articles because they were "broke in," as he would 
prefer a trained horse to an untrained one. 1 It was remarked 
by Edward VIII as Prince of Wales that his father detested 
three things "ultra-modern novels, painted fingers, and new 
shoes." 2 Collectors of epitaphs have noted some curious illus- 
trations of English conservatism, such as the following: 

"JONATHAN THOMPSON 

"A Good Husband and Affectionate Father 

Whose Disconsolate Widow and Orphans 

Continue to Carry on the Tripes and Trotter Business 

In the Same Shop as Before Their Bereavement " 



"Here Lie the Bones of Hubert Smith 

And What Is Somewhat Rarish 
He Was Born, Reared and Hanged 
All in the Same Here Parish" 3 

Conservatism, of course, is not an unmixed blessing; nothing 
is. In great things and small a price must be paid for con- 

1 Bennett, A., Clayhanger, New York, Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1922. 

2 Sackville, M., "The Days of the King,*' The Windsor Magazine, April, 
1935- 

8 Smith, G., "Young Mortality," Atlantic Monthly, July, 1936, p. 17, 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 77 

servatism; but the English think, justly enough, that it is 
worth the price. 

Some methods and techniques in various English industries 
are obsolete and therefore uneconomical. As an entertaining 
instance, may be cited the story related by Mr. Harold E. 
Scarborough of how a contractor "muddled through" with the 
installation of water, gas, and electricity for the house pur- 
chased by an American in a suburb of London. One day 
workmen came, dug a trench from the main road, "fiddled 
about the pipes and tiles, filled in the trench, and departed." 
No water, gas, or electricity were brought to the house; not 
yet. A few days later workmen appeared again and the opera- 
tion was repeated with the same result; that is, the house con- 
tinued to be uninhabitable. A few days later the perform- 
ance was repeated once more. When for the fourth time 
workmen appeared and began to excavate the trench, the 
American decided to inquire of the builder how long this re- 
newed digging and filling in was to continue before the house 
would be supplied with water and light. He was informed 
that the inspector from the Water Board had been to examine 
the installation, and that in due course inspectors from the gas 
and electric companies would follow. 

" 'But/ the American expostulated, 'that will mean six 
times that your workmen will have excavated and filled 
in these trenches. Why not dig one trench for all three 
services, install them, and fill it in after having the three 
inspectors simultaneously pass their verdicts?' 

"The builder turned a cold and baleful eye upon him. 

" c We never do it like that,' he replied stiffly." * 

1 From England Muddles Through, by H. E. Scarborough, New York, 
1932, pp. 60 f. By permission of The Macmillan Company, publishers. 



THE ENGLISH MIND 



English muddling through in the textile industry, for in- 
stance, has made it possible for the Japanese to compete suc- 
cessfully in the world markets with Manchester. 

War or no war, the British ways tend to remain intact. Dr. 
Harvey Gushing relates: 

"Mr. Buttrick, G.E.B., told me Saturday when I saw 
him in Camiers of his encountering in Liverpool a former 
friend a Canadian lumber merchant who had drifted 
over with the first contingent and was now in British 
service. Mr. B. asked him what he was doing and he 
said he was a sort of magnified stevedore engaged in un- 
loading lumber ships. He was given the job presumably 
because he owned lumber mills and therefore knew lum- 
ber when he saw it. Being given it, he got to work and 
found them unloading the heavy timber with an anti- 
quated apparatus which necessitated placing a chain on 
each end of every beam, and which then deposited them in 
a huge pile on the dock. The pile subsequently had to be 
disentangled, like picking out jackstraws, and sorted into 
some six or eight sizes a performance which took about 
ten days. He therefore installed an unloading device with 
a long swinging crane which could not only pick up a log 
in its middle, but deposit it on the dock in its appropriate 
pile according to size. It took about ten hours for the 
whole performance. 'But/ he added, 'the curious thing 
is they dislike me for it' " * 

As a more serious instance of "muddling through" during 
the World War, it may be mentioned that Great Britain, 

1 From Leaves from a Surgeon's Journal, by Harvey Gushing, an Atlantic 
Monthly Press Publication, Boston, 1936, pp. 266 f. Reprinted by permission 
of Little, Brown & Co. 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 



despite her vast industrial potentialities, for a long time lagged 
behind the Germans in supplying the troops with machine 
guns, and thus contributed to what Mr. Lloyd George cor- 
rectly calls the melting-down of the overwhelming superiority 
in man power which the Allies enjoyed at the beginning of the 
war "to the dimensions of dubious equality." * History seems, 
however, to prove that for the Englishman, at any rate, con- 
servatism pays on the whole. 

The British Parliament is convened and prorogued in un- 

intelligible old French formulas; legal phrases are still couched 

in medieval French and Latin; judges and barristers wear 

eighteenth-century wigs; English school children still strug- 

gle with the late Roman and Prankish currency system and 

the old Germanic system of weights and measures, which 

the Englishman alone considers superior to the metric sys- 

tem. But what the Englishman may lose in international 

competition as a result of his conservative ways and his habit 

of "muddling through," he more than regains through the 

assurance of moral, economic, and political stability. He does 

not have to pay ruinous bills for wasteful political and social 

experiments. For this exemption England is indebted to the 

instinct for conservatism possessed by the nation as a whole. 

The Englishman definitely prefers the exercise of common 

sense, the accumulated wisdom of the race, to all millennium- 

promising experimentation. In England the radicalism of 

the postwar period, though radicalism of a mild variety, en- 

joyed only a brief triumph. In 1929 the Labour party obtained 

two hundred and eighty-seven seats in the House of Commons; 

but in 1931 it returned only fifty-two. Thus the man in the 

street turned away from the socialistic Santa Claus, realizing 

1 War Memoirs, Boston, Little, Brown & Co., 1936, Vol. V, p. 137. 



80 THE ENGLISH MIND 

in good time that such a Santa Glaus must collect in due season 
and is apt to prove a hard collector in the long run. 

This interesting English phenomenon, the conservatism of 
the man in the street, has found a curious echo in a story told 
by Mr. Henry W. Nevinson. Soon after the World War, 
while passport regulations were still stringent, as Mr. Nevin- 
son recounts, his son Richard, an artist, applied to the Foreign 
Office for a visa: 

"The official asked him: 'Are you related to that man, 
Henry Nevinson?' 'He is my father,' Richard replied. 
'He is a man of very violent opinions, isn't he?' asked the 
official. 'Oh, dear no!' said Richard, having known me 
from childhood; 'he's the mildest of men.' 'When I say 
violent opinions,' the official explained, 1 mean he doesn't 
see eye to eye with the man in the street. Now, does he?' 
Only what the Ministers call an answer in the negative 
was possible, and the visa was refused, but our language 
was enriched by an official definition of violence unsur- 
passed in precision." l 

During the World War, in the face of the wanton destruc- 
tion prevailing in the zone of operations, the English often 
gave refreshing examples of their scrupulous respect for law, 
order, and property. While Colonel E, L. Spears was at Sir 
John French's quarters at Le Gateau, a message came from a 
cavalry detachment at Binche which caused the French much 
amusement. The British cavalry commander wanted to know 
whether he was justified in loopholing the walls of the farm- 

1 Changes and Chances, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1923, p. viii 
(Preface). 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 8l 

house in which his staff was stationed. As Colonel Spears 
remarks: 

"The inveterate British respect for law, order, and prop- 
erty could not be shaken by the mere fact of there being 
a war on. One wondered whether officers would not in- 
dent for coroners, complete with juries, to sit on the first 
casualties." x 

In the chaos of open or covert revolutions that swept over 
Europe in the wake of the World War, England furnished a 
reassuring spectacle of steadiness and soundness, despite the 
serious economic difficulties of the two bitter decades of read- 
justment. This steady progress England owes not so much to 
the upper classes, which are fairly conservative the world over, 
but primarily to the sound conservatism of the masses of her 
inhabitants. It is thanks to this enviable condition that the 
Marxian brand of socialism met with bloodless, yet decisive, 
defeat in England; in the past decade important Labour lead- 
ers, such as MacDonald, Snowden, and others have left their 
party in favor of co-operation with the Conservatives. This 
action of the Labour leaders was denounced as apostasy by the 
Continental Socialists, Yet they ought to have been prepared 
for the worst, for the socialistic Prime Minister had not slighted 
the ancient custom of kissing the King's hand upon receiving 
his commission. And in Paris in 1928, when he rose to ad- 
dress "a group of French Deputies, for the most part Socialists," 
this spokesman of the Labour party revealed himself as a full- 
fledged British patriot in this astounding request: "Gentlemen, 
before taking up our subject I think it will be fitting to all of 

1 From Liaison, igi4> by Brigadier General Spears, 1931, p. 138; reprinted 
with permission by Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc., New York. 



82 THE ENGLISH MIND 

you if we pause in silence and pray to God for the recovery 
of our King, who at this very moment is fighting against 
death." 1 In his further political evolution, Mr. MacDonaid 
reached the point where conversion from what appeared an 
exaggerated radicalism in British eyes to a benevolent con- 
servatism became inevitable for a man of sound political in- 
stincts. Disraeli confessed to a similar metamorphosis in these 
significant words: "This respect for precedent, this clinging 
to prescription, this reverence for antiquity, which are so often 
ridiculed by conceited and superficial minds, appear to me to 
have their origin in a profound knowledge of human na- 



ture." 2 



But, again, conservatism like other good things carries in 
itself an element of danger. Besides those handicaps in the 
economic field mentioned above, at least two other significant 
dangers implied in consgryafosm must be borne in mind. One 
is a cqifeip jnclinyrign to apathy m the ordinary course of 
public life, resulting from the belief that history is a continuous 
repetition of the past; another is the tendency toward jfa- 
durate resistance to reforms, especially those that purport to 
improve the condition of the masses at the expense of privileged 
individuals. The English have avoided, on the whole, the 
dangers both of reckless reformation and of ignorant indif- 
ference to the lessons of history; a slow but steady progress 
in social legislation has taken place. John Buchan expresses 
a typically English point of view in the introduction to his 
Great Britain: "History gives us a kind of chart, and we dare 
not surrender even a small rushlight in the darkness. The 
hasty reformer who does not remember the past will find 

1 Maurois, A., "George V and the British Crown,'* Atlantic Monthly, May, 
*935> P- 587- 

2 Quoted in Maurois, A., Disraeli, New York, D. Appleton and Co,, 1028, 
p. 106, 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 83 

himself condemned to repeat it." 1 The English admit re- 
forms, and even drastic ones. Thus it was that the Reform 
Act of 1832 and subsequent reform acts enlarging the fran- 
chise were shaped and set in motion, without serious political 
or social upheaval. It may be recalled that it was under a 
Conservative Government that English women received the 
suffrage. 

THE ART OF COMPROMISE 

Social progress in England may be viewed as a moving 
equilibrium. To preserve social equilibrium amidst the salu- 
tary or the merely unavoidable changes which are called 
progress, the Englishman practices, with admirable dexterity 
and reasonableness, though not without growling, the art of 
compromise. Thus the wisdom of the mature man of action, 
who thoroughly understands the law of economy of force, 
counterbalances the proverbial obstinacy of the Briton. He 
does not believe in intransigency for its own sake, and his 
tenacity of purpose is modified by a readiness to admit reason- 
able compromise. Thus the bulldog in him can play the 
spaniel at need; and what is exceedingly important is that he 
retains his ability for obstinate resistance side by side with his - 
aptitude for compromise. 

"Compromise," says George Santayana, "is odious to pas- 
sionate natures because it seems a surrender, and to intellectual 
natures because it seems a confusion." 2 The Englishman 
seems to escape these drawbacks; he can practice compromise 
without undue confusion and, especially, without at all losing 
the love for independence and the courage of protest. 



J., Editor, The Nations of To-Day: Great Britain, Boston, 
Houghton Mifflin Co., 1923, Vol. II, p. xii. 
2 Soliloquies in England, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1922, p. 83. 



04 THE ENGLISH MIND 

In political or economic conflicts, national and international, 
the Englishman behaves like some weather-beaten fisherman 
trawling for fish. The experienced fisherman knows that he 
must compromise with the elements; it is the inexperienced 
fisherman who fights on until he is broken* The English 
have profited well, for example, by the lesson of the loss of 
the American colonies, caused by unwillingness to compro- 
mise. Since then, their ability to compromise, the adaptability 
of the English nation, has preserved for it the position of 
leadership in the British Empire. At the same time the polit- 
ical intransigence and lack of adaptability on the part of the 
crowned heads of Austria, Germany, Turkey, and Russia 
brought about the overthrow of their thrones and inflicted 
untold sufferings upon their hapless nations. 1 It will be re- 
called that the Established Church itself is a compromise 
between Catholicism and Calvinism, between Rome and 
Geneva. 

Honesty demands the observation, however, that at times 
John Bull's art of compromise is scarcely to be distinguished 
from political hypocrisy of a rather shabby sort. To borrow 
from Max O'Rell, who understood John Bull so well: 

"And what a diplomatist he is! Ask him for a reform, 
and he will stare at you astonished, assuring you that all 
is (already!) for the best in the best of worlds. But shake 
your fist at him, and show him that you mean to have 
that reform, and he will smile, and say: 'Oh, that's all 
right, I beg your pardon, I didn't know that you were in 



earnest'" 2 



1 Cf. Toynbee, A. J., "A British View of British Foreign Policy," The Yale 
Review, September, 1933, pp. 52-65. 

2 English Pharisees, French Crocodiles, and Other Anglo-French Typical 
Characters, Toronto, 1892, p. 14. 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 85 

"To the English/' Clemenceau used to say, "one must speak 
with firmness." x 

In the course of history the Englishman has been permeated 
with the wisdom of the Greek saying: "It is a malady of the 
soul to be in love with impossible things." Furthermore, the 
Englishman also understands more clearly, or at least prac- 
tices more honestly and consistently than the Greeks ever did, 
the precepts of Aristophanes on the wisdom of listening to the 
other side. He has made political broadmindedness, taken in 
the right sense of the term, an obligatory qualification for 
public men. Hence the belief that the Opposition signifi- 
cantly called "His Majesty's Opposition" as a pendant to His 
Majesty's Government is as vital as the Government itself. 
This distinctly English conception of political co-operation has 
been imitated very imperfectly by even the more balanced and 
orderly democracies on the Continent. Again, it was a French- 
man, Voltaire, who framed what might well be taken as con- 
servative England's declaration to one and all radical propa- 
gandists: "I do not care a straw for what you say, but I would 
give my life for your right to say it." 

A. Lawrence Lowell, in his study of the English Constitu- 
tion, lucidly contrasted the dogmatic rigidity of the alignment 
of political parties on the Continent with the political liberties 
extended to party members in England. On the Continent, 
political parties are divided from each other by dogmatic doc- 
trines, at times of a fanatical pitch; in England, political par- 
ties "are not separated by any profound divergence in political 
creed, but are essentially instruments of government contend- 
ing over concrete issues." 2 On the Continent, shifting from 

1 Bugnet, C., "Foch et Clemenceau," Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 decembre 



,. L., The Government of England, New York, The Macmillan 
Company, 1908, Vol. II, pp. 53$ * 



86 THE ENGLISH MIND 

one party affiliation to another is a risky enterprise, especially 
for a prominent member; it is treated by constituents as polit- 
ical apostasy, and is suspiciously viewed by the general public. 
In England, where the sound art of compromise is a positive 
virtue, "a man will cling to his party so long as its policy on 
the whole accords with his views better than the policy of its 
rival, and when it ceases to do so he will cross over to the 
other side." l 

To repeat, the liberty of political compromise is granted in 
England, not only to the rank-and-file members of a party, 
but also to those who aspire to highest positions in government. 
Thus Disraeli attained to the leadership of the Conservatives, 
despite the fact that his political career began in the Radical 
party. Similarly, Gladstone, the leader of the Liberals, began 
his career in the Conservative camp; while Lord Derby, who 
had served as Secretary for Foreign Affairs under Disraeli, 
became Colonial Minister in Gladstone's cabinet. Mr. Ramsay 
MacDonald attained the headship of a Unionist cabinet after 
abandoning the Labour party leadership. One of the most 
valuable acquisitions of the Conservatives in recent times was 
Mr. Winston Churchill, who had been with the Liberals be- 
fore. Since there is no apostasy in changing from one political 
party to another, personal friendship between outstanding men 
of opposing parties is taken as a matter of course in England. 

The borrowing by the Government of the Opposition's 
recipes for the solution of even very crucial problems is done 
in England without any loss of face or prestige, while the 
party grumbles who thus sustains the "stealing/" A historic 
case of such "borrowing," entertainingly related by Max 
O'Rell, is typical of English political history: 

1 Lowell, A. L., The Government of England, New York, The Macmillan 
Company, 1908, Vol. II, pp. 536 f. 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 87 

"When Lord Beaconsfield deftly snatched Cyprus from 
the 'unspeakable' Turk, in 1878, and, presenting it to John 
Bull, asked him to admire the fine catch, John's Liberal 
sons turned up their noses and declared that the honesty 
of the proceeding was dubious, and vowed the place was 
not fit to send British soldiers to. It would hardly be 
humane to send our convicts there,' they said: 'not even 
flies could stand the climate.' Two years later the Tories 
went out of office, and the Liberals came to power. What 
happened? You think, perhaps, that the Liberals 
promptly restored the island to the Turks with their 
compliments and apologies? Catch them! Better than 
that. No sooner were the Tories out of office than a yacht 
of three leading Liberals might have been seen sailing 
toward Cyprus, which, it would seem, a simple change of 
ministry had changed into a health resort. In the be- 
ginning of May of the current year the Liberal govern- 
ment gave orders to the military occupation in Egypt 
to send to Cyprus all the sick soldiers who were in a fit 
condition to be transported not to finish them up, but 
actually to hasten their convalescence." 1 

Recent decades have furnished several notable examples of 
political borrowing, back and forth, between the Government 
and the Opposition. This method of procedure has been 
among the most fertile achievements of the Englishman's apti- 
tude for compromise, as it has been also one of the impressive 
guarantees of the stability of England and of the continuity 
of her major policies. 
Mr. Baldwin, having assumed the leadership of the Conserva- 

1 English Pharisees, French Crocodiles and Other Anglo-French Typical 
Characters, Toronto, 1892, pp. 213 f. 



THE ENGLISH MIND 



tivcs in May, 1923, went before the country in January, 1924, on 
the issue of a protective tariff, which he considered an urgent 
need. The country was not yet ready to support the scheme 
destined to be adopted a few years later under the leadership 
of a rival party, and the Conservatives were replaced in power 
by the Labourites. When Labour thus took office for the first 
time, the expectations of many Continental and a few English 
revolutionaries met with prompt disillusionment; nothing rev- 
olutionary ensued. The budget made by the first Labour 
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Philip Snowden, pleased 
even the City bankers. When tine miners went on strike, dis- 
contented by the rise of prices accompanying the rise of sterling 
in the international exchange and distressed by the prospect 
of substantial shipments of coal to be made by the German 
Government under the reparations agreement of 1923, the 
Labour Governments attitude toward the miners was not any 
less stern than that of the Conservative cabinet which suc- 
ceeded the first administration of Mr. MacDonald in Novem- 
ber, 1924, when the Daily Mail unmasked the Bolshevist in- 
filtration into the Labour organizations. On the other hand, 
the Conservative party, which had decried the Labour Gov- 
ernment's flirting with the extreme left groups among the 
miners, proceeded, once in office, to bribe the same miners not 
to strike, by subsidizing them out of the funds of the Ex- 
chequer. The Conservatives correctly judged that such a 
double compromise at that time was for the country's good, as 
a safety valve for the discontent that threatened an explosion 
of serious proportions. 

When the general strike came on May 3, 1926, as an ex- 
pression of the workers' cumulative discontent gathered in the 
course of the post-war years and fanned up by Communistic 
propaganda, the Government handled the situation calmly. 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 89 

It rapidly triumphed, as it was bound to do, thanks to various 
happy peculiarities of the national character. The general 
strike was called off on May 12 so that negotiations might 
proceed, and work was generally resumed on May 17. Next, 
some of the less enlightened intransigent employers prepared 
to crush the Labour influence once and for ever by drastically 
discharging and otherwise victimizing the more active Trade 
Union element. The Conservative Prime Minister, Mr. Stan- 
ley Baldwin, arranged for an appeal against such victimiza- 
tion, which was promptly broadcast by the King. 1 When this 
first attempt in English history to use the weapon of a gen- 
eral strike completely failed because of the average English- 
man's instinctive abhorrence of violent methods in political and 
economic struggle, the moral generally drawn by responsible 
leaders of Labour was "never again." 

A recent impressive example of English adjustment and 
preservation of political equilibrium is found in the election of 
November 14, 1935, when ten parties competed for six hun- 
dred and fifteen seats in the House of Commons. On paper 
it appeared to be an unusual electoral confusion for England. 
In reality, the balance of power was securely in the hands of 
the electoral center, compounded of the Conservatives, of the 
Liberals who under the name of National Liberals joined forces 
with them, and of the Labourites who chose the same right 
path under the label of National Labourites. This powerful 
coalition was augmented by smaller groups labeled National- 
ists and Independent Nationalists. 

The general course of political adjustment in England as 
determined by the art of compromise is aptly- summed up by 
A. Lawrence Lowell in the following words: 

1 Scarborough, H. E., op. cit. f pp. 181 ff. 



96 THE ENGLISH MIND 

"This certainly conduces to safety and is a healthy polit- 
ical condition. It does not obstruct progress, but prevents 
the movement from being too rapid, and avoids violent 
changes, or conflicts that are perilously acute. , , . Changes 
in the British government will take place, but they will 
come slowly, the organism constantly adjusting itself to a 
new equilibrium, and the only safe prediction is that each 
fresh balance of forces will probably be as intricate, as 
nicely adjusted, and as worthy of study, as the ones that 
have gone before." l 

The quarter of a century which has passed since these words 
were written has not belied them. It seems permissible to 
prophesy that though some changes in parliamentary proce- 
dure may take place in England, for instance some measures 
which we may hope will assure minorities more adequate 
representation, it will be a "long time before the great gilded 
mace on the Speaker's table is replaced either by dictator's 
fasces or the Communists' sickle and hammer." 2 

Any discussion of the Englishman's art of compromise as 
a manifestation of his political maturity should mention that 
there is something on which the English majority never com- 
promises in political matters. This is the inviolability of the 
Englishman's fundamental liberties. In fairness to the keen 
student of England from whom less flattering reflections have 
been quoted, we shall end with the following summary of 
Max O'RelPs on the subject of the Englishman's most ad- 
mirable quality, his uncompromising love of liberty: 

1 From The Government of England, by A. Lawrence Lowell, New York, 
1908, VoL II, pp. 536 f. By permission of The Macmillan Company, pub- 
lishers. 

2 Scarborough, H. E., op. cit., pp. 192 f . 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 9! 

"Worshiping his old monarchy, devoted to his old insti- 
tutions, but ravenous for justice and liberty, he could be 
ready to-day to demolish both monarchy and constitution, 
as he did in the seventeenth century, if his liberty ran the 
least danger. In politics, possessing the virtues that are 
indispensable to the prosperity of a nation respect of the 
law and respect of power clearly manifested he always 
bows to the decision of the majority. Refusing to submit 
to despotism in any shape or form, he himself keeps in 
order and discipline all his paid guides and governors: his 
Queen, his princes, his ministers, his generals, his judges, 
his priests. Wise, industrious, and persevering, never 
doubting his strength, above all minding his own business, 
and imposing upon all their attributions and duties, from 
his sovereign down to the humblest citizen, he has chosen 
for his motto: 'Fais bien $e que tu fais (Do well what you 
are doing)/" 1 

EMOTIONAL CONTROL 

The saying quoted by Montesquieu in a letter to Guasco, 
March 12, 1750, does not seem to be contradicted by present 
characteristics of the English people: "In England, men are 
more manly and women are less womanish than elsewhere." * 
Not only his puritanic stoicism, his ingrained abhorrence 
of self-indulgence, but also his sense of economy of force, 
demanding calmness and condemning haste and confusion, 
account for the Englishman's remarkable control of the 

1 0'Rell, M. (Paul Blouet), English Pharisees, French Crocodiles, and Other 
Anglo-French Typical Characters, op. cit., pp. 15 f. 

2 Montesquieu, Correspondence, Paris, Edward Champion, 1914, t. II, 
p. 261. 



92 THE ENGLISH MIND 

emotions. Emotion is instinctively distrusted by the ma- 
ture man of action as something which might readily be- 
tray one into hasty action. It is bad taste, the most formid- 
able word an Englishman can pronounce, to allow one's anger 
or fear or grief or joy to be written on one's face to attract the 
attention of every passer-by. The marked calm of British 
countenances is one of the first impressions that a foreign 
visitor receives upon landing in England or upon boarding 
an English steamer. This is well described by an American 
writer, Richard G. White: 

"When I landed, one of the very few differences I ob- 
served between the people I had left and those among 
whom I had come was a calmer and more placid expres- 
sion of countenance. This in the descending scale of 
intelligence became a stolid look, the outward sign of 
mental sluggishness. But, higher or lower, in degree or 
in kind, there it was, placidity instead of a look of in- 
tentness and anxiety." x 

The Englishman's self-control gives him remarkable like- 
ness to the ancient Roman, of whom H. O. Taylor aptly said: 

"To give way to passion was beneath a Roman. In 
affairs within the city, self-control was utmost political 
common sense; as to external military politics, self-control 
lay in daring what might be dared, in fearing what should 
be feared, and in abiding with unshakeable fortitude in 
whatever was resolved." 2 

1 England Within and Without, Boston, 1894, p. 19; used by permission of, 
and by arrangement with, Houghton Mifflin Co. 

2 From The Classical Heritage of the Middle Ages, by Henry Osborne 
Taylor, New York, 1929, p. 22. By permission of The Macmillan Company, 
publishers. 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 93 

The Englishman, in all probability, is not born more placid 
than any other northerner, but he certainly is carefully trained 
to control his emotions and to be inconspicuous in voice, man- 
ner, and dress. "Unobtrusive," says Galsworthy about one 
of his heroes, "that was the word unobtrusive, always! . . . 
He had never seemed to wish to be appreciated, or even re- 
membered, by anyone." x 

When a proper Britisher has spent some years in a snug 
English neighborhood without committing the indiscretion 
of addressing his neighbors, he is mentioned by them as "a 
nice quiet chap." The Englishman likes his dog not only for 
the animal's fidelity, but also because the dog, though he can 
feel deeply, is a silent companion. "Animals," one can read 
in George Eliot's Scenes of Clerical Life, "are such agreeable 
friends they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." 

The author of the present volume was grateful for the quiet 
of Ilford, in Essex, a post-war "garden city" of middle-class 
commuters. In the early evening hours he would pass along 
the winding and economically lighted streets. The windows 
opening on the streets were dark, for the families congregated 
in the more private back rooms; the conversation, if any, was 
subdued in tone, and the radios and phonographs sounded 
pianissimo. The silence was at times a trifle uncanny; but no 
hold-ups occurred; indeed, not even friendly solicitations for 
small cash. The author also vividly recalls how much im- 
pressed he was with the well-contained liveliness of the college 
students who crowded the narrow pavements of Oxford at 
the hour of afternoon tea; moving through the dense stream 
of healthy youthful humanity, one could converse with his 
companion without raising the voice. 
Count Keyserling, though he complains that his habit of 

1 Swan Song, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1928, p. 351. 



94 THE ENGLISH MIND 

self-analysis was thought by his English acquaintances little 
short of indecent, found excellent words with which to ex- 
press his admiration for English placidity, discreetness, and 
control of the emotions: 

"It is, moreover, precisely this practice which safeguards 
the private rights of the individual. English convention 
makes it taboo to inquire after personal matters unless they 
are spontaneously disclosed. And on the other hand 
personal matters should hardly ever be disclosed: one does 
not divulge one's emotions. Contrariwise, the forms of 
the group life should be wholly adjusted to the needs of 
one's private emotions. This leads to a fundamentally 
complete satisfaction of the two polar extremes of life 
the private and the group life. And this complete satis- 
faction suffices to explain why one meets so little of the 
ugly in England: no envy, no rudeness, no indiscretions, 
no mob spirit and yet no intrusive individualism." * 

M. Jacques Bardoux, analyzing the psychological factors in- 
volved in The Hague Reparations Conference of 1931, de- 
scribed Mr. Philip Snowden, the British Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer, as a man "coolly passionate" (patsionnt h froid). 2 
This is a happy expression and well sums up the true nature of 
the Englishman's control of the emotions. It may, however, be 
observed that when the English imitate the effusiveness of their 
Continental neighbors, they are blind to their own inconsist- 
ency. Such expressions as "It is most frightfully sporting of 
you!" or "It is perfectly gorgeous!" do not find ready equiva- 
lents in French or German. Joseph Conrad noted: "In the 
British Navy where human values are thoroughly understood, 

1 Keyserling, H., Europe, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1928, p. 29. 
2 Le Temps, n avril 1931. 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION <$ 

the highest signal of commendation complimenting a ship on 
some achievement consists exactly of these two simple words, 
'Well done/ followed by the name of the ship. Not mar- 
vellously done, astonishingly done, wonderfully done no, only 
just 'Well done, so and so!"* There is, however, nothing 
specifically English in such restrained language; the other 
armies and navies practice the same kind of manly restraint. 
For example, when Joffre and Foch were elevated to the 
dignity of marshals, the resolution adopted by the Chamber of 
Deputies and the Senate ordering the promotions simply said: 
"General of Division Joffre [Foch] is named Marshal of 
France for his services to the country." 

Control of the emotions is not infrequently regarded by the 
English as a kind of moral monopoly which distinguishes the 
Anglo-Saxon race. It may be permissible to mention that 
though the English gibe at the kissing indulged in as a social 
custom by exuberant Continentals, they themselves are not 
wholly free from such expression. Thus Southey writes of no 
lesser hero than the dying Nelson: 

"His previous order for preparing to anchor had shown 
how clearly he foresaw the necessity of this. Presently 
calling Hardy back, he said to him in a low voice: 'Don't 
throw me overboard'; and he desired that he might be 
buried by his parents, unless it should please the King to 
order otherwise. Then reverting to private feelings: Take 
care of my dear Lady Hamilton, Hardy; take care of poor 
Lady Hamilton. Kiss me, Hardy,' said he. Hardy knelt 
down and kissed his cheek, and Nelson said: 'Now I am 
satisfied. Thank God, I have done my duty!' " 2 

1 Notes on Life and Letters, New York, Doubleday, Page and Co., 1921, 

'* Southey, R., Life of Nelson, Second Edition, London, George Routledge 
and Sons, 1886, pp. 273 f. 



96 THE ENGLISH MEND 

This free expression of emotion on the part of England's 
greatest hero gave Mr. Bernard Shaw occasion to extol the 
self-control of the Irish Wellington "who had to fight Na- 
poleon's armies, Napoleon's marshals, and finally Napoleon 
himself without one moment of illusion as to the human 
material he had to command, without one gush of the 'Kiss 
me, Hardy' emotion which enabled Nelson to idolize his 
crews and his staff," * We have not yet seen Mr. Shaw's com- 
ment upon the emotional outburst of which Field-Marshal 
Sir Douglas Haig was guilty on receiving the news of his son's 
birth. The Field-Marshal's biographer described the scene 
as follows: 

"During this anxious month of March [1918], Haig's 
mind was eased on one great burden. While her husband 
was at home on a brief visit Lady Haig gave birth to a son. 
Haig's mind had been torn between his eagerness to have 
an heir and his concern for Lady Haig's health, and when 
his doctor allayed his fears, bringing the good news that 
the son and heir was born, the barrier behind which Haig 
concealed his emotions for once broke down. Impulsively 
he embraced the doctor, kissing him on each cheek. "Like 
a damned foreigner!' the doctor added in recounting the 
incident." 2 

Notwithstanding such instances, it remains true that the 
Englishman is brought up to repress his emotions with an 
effectiveness that astonishes his Continental neighbors. The 
imperturbability of the typical English butler has enriched the 
comic repertoire of many lands. Some foreign observers have 

^ * John Bull's Other Island, New York, Brentano's, 1918, "Preface for Poli- 
ticians," p. xii. 

2 Charteris, J., Field-Marshal Earl Haig, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 
1929, p. 318. 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 97 

been so baffled by the Englishman's self-possession as to be 
led to extravagant explanations of this national trait, as was 
that brilliant French student of England, Hippolyte Taine. 

Despite exaggerations, probably inevitable in the case of 
such complex psychological matters, keen foreign students of 
England well understand and properly appreciate the Eng- 
lish capacity for suppressing emotions. Some of them rightly 
connect this capacity not only with the Englishman's stoic 
Puritanism, but also with his mature sense of economy in the 
expenditure of strength: "The human being is ten times 
stronger when his pulse continues calm, and when his judg- 
ment remains free from the confusing influence of emotions. 
The consequences and the shades of a type are innumerable." * 

Since the repercussions of the Englishman's mentality on 
public affairs interest us above all in the present study, it 
seems important to note that his placidity is sometimes mis- 
taken by writers on England for mere inertia and indolent 
laissez-faire. There is a vital distinction to be drawn between 
calmness and spineless inertia. The English nation is, to be 
sure, not altogether immune to laissez-faire tendencies; but 
their practiced placidity, the refusal to be perturbed by minor 
problems, "a capital social lubricant," 2 as Mr. Waugh hap- 
pily describes it, is frequently underrated by superficial ob- 
servers. 

The stoicism of English parents during the World War 
afforded vital expression of their emotional control. Similar 
stoicism existed, of course, in all the belligerent countries, but 
it was shown in England not only in the readiness to bear 
with fortitude the supreme sacrifices exacted of high and 

1 Notes on England, New York, Henry Holt and Co., 1876, p. 64. 

2 Waugh, A., Myself When Young, New York, Brentano's, 1924, p. 59; 
published by Coward-McCann. 



98 THE ENGLISH MIND 

humble alike, but also in a rigid concealment of anxiety and 
grief which was peculiarly English. 

It is needless to insist that nothing would be more inexact 
than to say that the English are unfeeling people. Was not 
England a nursery if not the cradle of sentimentalism in litera- 
ture? More often than not there is a deeper emotion behind 
the Englishman's phlegm than behind the apparent out- 
bursts of passion of a Latin. 

To be of real benefit and to promote fruitful action, repressed 
emotions require a safety valve of some sort, a provision for 
indirect externalization. The Englishman finds outlet, as do 
other men, through prayer and the expression of religion in 
general, in the indulgence of humor, in the enjoyment of 
nature and the fine arts; also in sport and in transports of 
imperialism. Of these various escapes afforded for pent-up 
emotions, the enjoyment of a sense of humor and of the fine 
arts deserves special attention, as presenting significant ma- 
terial for documentation on English self-control. 

During the World War, in the trenches, with their "mud 
and blood, the stink and the racket, and the endless night- 
mare of being pitchforked into fire without rhyme or reason," 
the Briton's defiant sense of humor was often his salva- 
tion. 

The following passage happily illustrates the place assigned 
to defensive humor in the English scheme of things: 

"Then there's the matter of grousing; grousing among 
themselves about this and that. You would be deceived 
about this until you got to know them a bit. It's a queer 
thing, and not easy to explain; but grousing is one of the 
passions of their lives; or perhaps it would be truer to 
say a favorite form of recreation. But, mark you this, 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 99 

only when everything is going smoothly, and when there 
is nothing real to grumble about. It would seem to be 
absolutely forbidden to growl when there's anything to 
growl about; a sort of unwritten law which, since we've 
been out here anyhow, is never transgressed. 

"It's rather fine, this, and very English. So long as 
there is a little intermittent grousing going on, you can be 
quite sure of two things: there's nothing wrong and the 
men are in good spirits and content. If there is no grous- 
ing, it means one of two things: either the men are 
angered about something, in which case they will be un- 
usually silent; or we are up against real difficulties and 
hardships, involving real suffering, in which case there 
will be a lot of chaffing and joke-cracking, and apparent 
merriment." * 

In a moment of such grousing, a patriotic Briton com- 
posed the following popular lines: 

"My Tuesdays are meatless, 
My Wednesdays are wheatless, 
It is getting more eatless each day; 
My home is heatless, 
My bed is sheetless, 
All are sent to the Y.M.C.A. 

"The barrooms are treatless, 
My coffee is sweetless, 
Each day I get poorer and wiser; 
My stockings are feetless, 
My trousers are seatless, 
My God, how I do hate the Kaiser!" 

1 "Letters from the Firing Line," The Forum, 1917, Vol. 57, p. 53. 



100 THE ENGLISH MIND 

Spread in many copies through the trenches, this jingle fell 
into the hands of the German military authorities, who took it 
quite seriously as a proof of the difficult economic situation 
and profound war-weariness of the British. It was duly pub- 
lished in the Hamburger Nachrichten in translation: 

"Am Dienstag jehlt mir Fleisch und Specif 
Am Mittwoch ist das Weissbrot weg, etc." x 

With relation to the fine arts as emotional outlets, it is a 
well-known fact that sentimental novels have a much wider 
circulation in England than on the Continent. Dickens is, and 
in all probability will remain, a great favorite with the average 
Englishman not only because he is so much in earnest about 
the joys and sorrows of his humble folk, but also because he 
is the most sentimental of novelists and the most permeated 
with the genuine brand of British humor. 

Of other types of good literature the average Englishman 
seems to prefer the drama, with its rich element of action and 
the possibilities which it offers for teaching moral lessons and, 
in general, for the exercise of influence toward character 
building. The Englishman is tolerant and at times very fond 
of lyric poetry, as its indulgence in emotion may be taken in 
strict privacy. The average Englishman's attitude regarding 
such fine arts as use fervid and, so to speak, loud public 
methods of expression, auditory and visual, is a mixed one. The 
actor still smacks of the mountebank and a respectable Briton 
intensely dislikes the notion of having a son or daughter in 
the profession. Being a practical man, however, he can bring 
himself to recognize and admire success even on the stage or 
in the moving pictures. 

1 Gushing, H., Leaves from a Surgeon's Journal, cit. t pp. 287 f. 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 101 

Roma non cantat. Indeed, ancient Rome while she was 
building the foundations of her empire and until after the 
decadence following the Punic Wars and the influx of the 
neo-sophistic Greek ways of life set in, did not indulge in 
music festivals or favor any but martial music. The English 
are, among the western nations, the people most strikingly en- 
dowed with the empire-building temperament, which makes 
the repression of emotion a virtue. This probably explains why 
the English have built a great empire, but have failed to com- 
pose music comparable to that of their European contempo- 
raries. It may also account for the fact that London has neg- 
lected to build an adequate opera house, though fine monu- 
mental buildings dedicated to English-speaking peoples, the 
Bush House, the Australia House, the Canada House, adorn 
the principal streets of the capital. 

Music is "emotional stuff," Galsworthy's Soames Forsyte 
declares contemptuously. 1 An anecdote of the Victorian Age 
illustrates middle-class English feeling. Sigismond Thalberg, 
the German-Swiss pianist, was one evening performing before 
Queen Victoria -at Windsor; the Queen, a German from the 
House of Coburg, accompanied the pianist with her voice. 
'The circumstance took air, and all England shuddered from 
sea to sea. The indecorum was never repeated." 2 Not a few 
true-born Englishmen of the present era think about the opera 
as did Mrs. Fisher, a character in a recent film. Commenting 
upon her undesirable son-in-law who was guilty of taking his 
wife to the opera, she exclaimed, indignantly: "The opera! 
Sensible people do not go to the opera. What is there to do 
at the opera? To hear foreigners holler!" 

Emotion, when its object is common interest, can serve as 

1 Swan Song, cit., p. 326. 2 Emerson, English Traits, dt. t p. no. 

WM-8 



102 THE ENGLISH MIND 

a powerful means of uniting or integrating individuals into 
a body social. This social service of emotion has not escaped 
the Englishman's instinct as a mature man of action. There- 
fore, while extremely chary of expressing his emotions as a 
private individual, or of encouraging other individuals in the 
expression of their private emotions, the Englishman permits 
emotion full freedom as a member of a group and when the 
object is something that concerns the group as a whole. Two 
specifically English manifestations of such release of the emo- 
tions may be briefly discussed public games and the affec- 
tionate reverence displayed toward the King and the members 
of the Royal Family. 

During the World War, the French were often puzzled by 
the earnestness of English officers and men in the organization 
of games under the most trying circumstances. One reason 
for this love of games and sports on the part of the English 
seems to be furnished by their conception of the good man, 
whose morale is sustained by contests. But to account fully 
for the popularity of professional matches, the financial turn- 
over of which, we are told by statisticians, is equal to one-half 
of the English national budget, some further explanation ap- 
pears necessary. 

What is that force which sends thousands upon thousands 
of Englishmen on Saturday afternoons to the cricket and foot- 
ball fields where the fortunes of a ball hold enormous crowds 
spellbound? The instinctive love of activity plays a part in 
this phenomenon of English life; the Englishman wants to be 
active in a tangible manner, even though vicariously, while he 
is seeking rest and recreation from the drudgeries of daily life 
and work. It must be remembered that eighty per cent of the 
population of England is concentrated in industrial cities. The 
great crowds at public games and athletic contests of all types 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION IO3 

are composed of individuals who seek to escape the irritating 
spatial narrowness of an industrial city. But then the French 
shopkeepers and factory workers in Paris, Lyons, or Marseille, 
live and work in oppressively crowded conditions no less than 
the shopkeepers and workmen of London, Birmingham, Man- 
chester, Liverpool, or Sheffield. Yet the French shopkeeper is 
satisfied with sitting leisurely in front of his shop during his 
free hours, chatting with his friends and neighbors; on Sun- 
day he goes fishing in the river near-by, where there are very 
few fish to be caught, but where he is joined by friends, also 
in quest of quiet relaxation. Neither will the difference in the 
English and French conception of the good man suffice to 
explain this difference in the conception of recreation. It is 
quite possible that the Englishman's habitual repression of the 
emotions demands, as a compensation, an outlet as exciting as 
is a public match and the betting accompanying it. Moreover, 
it is an approved, because social, expression of emotion. 1 

One of the greatest dangers which beset the path of the man 
who makes the suppression of emotion a virtue is that his 
heart may run empty. The English as a nation have found 
an effective and fruitful insurance against this danger in the 
cult of the King as the living symbol of the unity and solidarity 
of the English nation and the British Empire. The result is 
that the sovereign whose personality and conduct meet the 
demands of the national mores and thus lend themselves to 
pan-British adulation is the most powerful emotional solvent, 
not only for the mother country herself, but also for the whole 
Empire. 2 As the French put it, the English nation adores itself 

1 Cf. Roe, D. C., "Le declin du puritanisme," Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 
mars 1935, pp. 317-349- 

2 The concreteness of the English mind is another contributing factor in 
this very English cult of the King. Cf. Maurois, A., "Hommage au Roi 
George V," Revue de Paris, 15 fevrier 1936: "The talk which the King made 
over the radio at Christmas to the citizens of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, 



104 T ENGLISH MIND 

in adoring the Crown. 1 Monarchy, in Great Britain, is the 
greatest national rite, in which and through which the British 
commune regardless of social class, economic station, or even 
political creed, unless the latter is communism or socialism 
verging on communism, the two together constituting, how- 
ever, a negligible quantity in British political life. 

The rise of the lower middle class and its demand for a place 
in the sun, as well as the growth of economic difficulties re- 
sulting from the increasing complexity of domestic and inter- 
national industrial and commercial organization, have pro- 
duced in England, too, a certain tendency toward serious social 
disunion. This disruptive tendency, however, has been less 
manifest there than on the Continent, thanks to the cult of the 
King. It is indeed a sound political instinct of the English 
that seems to lead people of all classes to commune, emotion- 
ally, in the cult of the King and the Royal Family: 

"To an amazing degree the connecting link between 
these classes lies in the institution of monarchy which has 
not for centuries enjoyed in England such popularity as it 
possesses today. It is the difficult task of the King to try 
to be all things to all men, a task which he could not pos- 
sibly fulfill if he retained any serious vestige of political 
power, but which, as things are, he discharges with re- 
markable success. 

"It is, of course, not at the instigation of the King him- 



the Cape in short to the entire Empire was remarkable for its naturalness 
of tone. 1 am talking not to the Empire, but to each of you.' This phrase 
shows that horror of abstraction, a profoundly English trait of mind, which 
explains why the English, despite some sad experiences in the seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries, have remained faithful to monarchy. Loyalty to a 
visible, concrete chief is to them a much more natural sentiment than devo- 
tion to 'undying principles' or respect for a written constitution." 

1 Cf. Pinon, R., "Chronique de la quinzaine," Revue fas Deux Mondes, 
15 decembre 1936, p. 957. 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 105 

self, but at that of his ministers, that the impression is con- 
veyed that the Throne is Tory when a Tory Government 
is in power, Liberal when there is a Liberal Prime Min- 
ister, and Socialist when a Labor Cabinet takes office. The 
King's speech at the opening of Parliament is prepared by 
the Cabinet. It is not his fault if he is made on one occa- 
sion to speak deprecatingly of the temper of the labor 
unions and six months later gently to chastise the em- 
ployers ... yet he is luckless who in England thought- 
lessly lights his cigarette before the toastmaster has given 
the toast of The King!'" 1 

As an interesting contrast to the growing agnosticism and 
religious indifference which have spared no land, the cult of 
the King, in England, seems to have been decidedly on the 
increase, despite occasional derogatory remarks made publicly 
even at official functions by some extreme left MJP.'s. The 
process was not, it seems, seriously set back by the circum- 
stances which led to the abdication of Edward VIII. On sev- 
eral occasions in the course of the reign of George V the Eng- 
lish press and public gave way to demonstrations of loyalty to 
the Crown, with an emotional excess which has scarcely been 
surpassed by any display of French or German emotionalism 
under circumstances of national intoxication. 

When the signing of the armistice became known, Bucking- 
ham Palace and the person of the King became the objects of 
a delirious outburst of popular emotion. The men who had 
actually conducted the war and brought it to victorious end 
were completely overlooked in that semi-mystic patriotic exul- 
tation of the London crowds, which centered on the King and 

1 From England Muddles Through, by H. E. Scarborough, New York, 
1932, pp. 25, 26, 27, 29. By permission of The Macmillan Company, pub- 
lishers. 



106 THE ENGLISH MIND 

his dwelling. Incidentally, this circumstance was not entirely 
pleasing to the then Prime Minister, Mr. David Lloyd George, 
a Welshman histrionically inclined but indubitably one of the 
British public men who contributed most to the successful 
issue of the war. 1 The biographer of Admiral Wemyss, the 
chief British representative at the armistice negotiations, relates 
as follows: 

"When the Armistice which entered into force in the 
nth hour of the nth day of the nth month had been 
signed at 5:10 A.M., Wemyss had telephoned the tidings to 
the King and the Prime Minister. 

"On his return next day he was immediately sent for by 
the King, to whom he rendered an account of his mis- 
sion. . . . For days previously the approaches to the Pal- 
ace, the Mall, Trafalgar Square had been thronged by 
expectant multitudes; when the news of the Armistice 
spread like wild fire on the morning of the nth they all, 

1 "When announcing his arrival to Buckingham Palace, Wemyss had done 
the same to the Prime Minister and spent all that afternoon and evening 
awaiting a summons, but much to his astonishment in vain. He deemed 
it beyond the bounds of reason that the Prime Minister should not desire to 
know what had passed on so momentous an occasion, and his astonishment 
turned into amazement when the following day, on attending the War 
Cabinet, instead of the congratulations he expected, he met with black looks 
and an icy reception. It was only on leaving the Cabinet that he was to 
discover the key to this enigma. 

"The Prime Minister had apparently planned a spectacular announcement 
of the Armistice which he hoped to make at the Guildhall Banquet on No- 
vember 9th; baulked of this by the Armistice not yet being signed, he pro- 
jected doing so in the House of Commons on the afternoon of the nth the 
news being meanwhile kept secret. This proved impossible after Wemyss' 
telephone to the King, who had announced the happy tidings to his entour- 
age; the Armistice was accordingly made public at n A.M.; popular enthu- 
siasm concentrated at Buckingham Palace while his official statement in the 
House of Commons fell flat; hence his almost unconcealed fury. 

"Wemyss shrugged his shoulders; the whole matter appeared to him so in- 
credibly petty; indeed, he could hardly believe it, had it not been vouched 
for by two unimpeachable authorities." (Wemyss, Lady W., The Life and 
Letters of Lord Webster Wemyss.) 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 107 

men, women, children, with one accord, and amidst scenes 
of frantic joy and indescribable enthusiasm, streamed to- 
wards Buckingham Palace to acclaim the King and the 
Royal Family, ovations repeated all that day and night and 
many subsequent ones. Never had the British nation tes- 
tified so unmistakably, so ardently their devotion and loy- 
alty to the Crown." * 

The author of the present volume happened to be in London 
the winter and spring of 1929, during King George's dan- 
gerous illness, a prolonged pleurisy. The bulletins of the 
King's condition were announced at each news broadcast three 
times a day and were received with great concern by the public. 
Even more impressive, if possible, was the patience with which 
mixed groups, fairly representative of the various classes of the 
population, used to await, under the cold, humid winter sky, 
the posting of the bulletins at the main gates of Buckingham 
Palace. One evening when the bulletins had become more, 
reassuring, the veteran actress Maud Adams, speaking over the 
radio on behalf of some charitable cause, opened her address 
by expressing her joy at the King's improvement, telling her 
invisible audience how she had danced up and down her room 
for ecstasy on hearing the good news. 

The Silver Jubilee celebration in May, 1935, furnished an 
abundance of psychological documents relative to the point 
under consideration. The London correspondent of the New 
York Times wired to the paper on May 7, 1935: 

"As was befitting in the ruler of a God-fearing people, 
he [the King] went first of all with Mary, his Queen, their 
sons, their daughter, their grandchildren and the digni- 

1 Wemyss, Lady W., The Life and Letters of Lord Webster Wemyss, Lon- 
don, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1935, pp. 39 6 f 



108 THE ENGLISH MIND 

taries of the realm in stately procession to the Cathedral 
of St. Paul's. . . . 

"The rejoicing in the land over this jubilee, the respect 
and affection shown this most modest of gentlemen, who 
has been also a wise King, a good husband and a good 
father, not only to his immediate family, but also to his 
subjects throughout the vast empire, extended to high and 
low, rich and poor. Never in her proudest and most pros- 
perous days has England witnessed the like of today's 
scenes, ... It did not seem like sober England, this frenzy 
of jubilation. ... It was almost Gallic. . . . They fainted 
by scores. . . . For these were the poor and often under- 
nourished who had turned out to acclaim the King. . . . 

"This 'King business' may be discredited and on its last 
legs elsewhere in the world, but not here . . . telegrams 
pouring in from throughout the British Empire tell the 
same story. . . . The children who have gone overseas 
... are still in the family. 

"Modern progress ... has brought its compensations 
. . . [the Empire is] hearing tonight the King's own voice 
broadcasting to his distant people almost as clearly as if he 
were in the family circle." 

The close of the jubilee celebrations is described in an Inter- 
national News Service dispatch from London, May n, as 
follows: 

"A literal riot of patriotic fervor was staged by 250,000 
loyal subjects of King George and Queen Mary tonight as 
the royal couple appeared on the balcony of Buckingham 
Palace to officially close the week's unprecedented jubilee 
celebrations. 

"The record crowd presented one of the most amazing 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 

displays of emotion ever seen in staid old England. As the 
couple appeared in what had been announced officially as 
their 'final' balcony appearance, pandemonium ensued. 

"Hundreds were knocked down, women fainted, and 
children were crushed as the great mass of people surged 
hysterically, shrieking loyal hurrahs of 'God save the King 
and Queen!' 

"More than 500 victims of the milling mob were treated 
at an ambulance station established as an emergency on 
the memorial steps. Twelve were hurt seriously enough 
to be sent to a hospital. One woman suffered several 
crushed ribs. 

"Police and ambulance attendants were helpless in the 
huge crowd, unable to reach those needing medical atten- 
tion for many minutes. 

"The grounds adjoining the palace were packed solidly 
by people for many blocks. The wide highways leading 
to the palace and the parkways about it were jammed. 

"The King and Queen remained on the balcony for 
seven minutes in the glare of floodlights, while crowds 
below shouted a steady cheer. 

"The balcony appearance, bringing an end to a week's 
celebrations marking the twenty-fifth year of King 
George's rule, closed a day in which their majesties drove 
in royal procession to Marylebone City Hall to receive the 
Mayors of eight north of London boroughs. 

"The steps of the great Victoria Memorial Monument, 
which stands before the palace, resembled a battlefield 
dressing station as scores of insensible men and women 
and children were laid out on blankets. 

"Ambulances already on the scene were augmented by 
others which came clanging to the scene in response to 



110 THE ENGLISH MIND 

emergency calls. Attendants worked frantically, rushing 
many to hospitals and sending others home after treat- 
ment. 

"Many husbands dragged swooning wives from the 
fervent crowd." 

The coronation of George VI was the occasion of a renewed 
outburst of feeling. The British people, through a mystical 
communion with the Crown, reveled in the consciousness of 
their unity, strength, and glory. 

Even though the English political instinct has found some 
useful social outlets for the individual's repressed emotion, 
those outlets are not sufficient to compensate for the inevitable 
psychological drawbacks attendant upon excessive suppression 
of emotions. One's control over one's emotions is a valuable 
and admirable power; but there is a price attached to it. This 
price usually is a certain degree of emotional impoverishment 
and inclination to hypocrisy. 

Also on the adverse side of the scales there is, in England, 
a stronger touch of tedium vitae than perhaps anywhere else 
in the world. Even the English themselves notice it; this is, 
probably, one of the explanations of the English fondness for 
travel. Foreign observers, some of them neither superficial 
nor unfriendly, dwell on the general dullness of English daily 
life, and are fairly unanimous in deploring the stiffness of 
English manners, resulting from the stifling of emotions. Let 
us hear from men of such dissimilar background and tem- 
perament as Montesquieu, King Louis Philippe, and William 
James. 

Montesquieu complains that while he easily made friends in 
France, in England, where he lived for two years, he was ut- 
terly unsuccessful in this respect. "You must do here as the 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION III 

English do," says Montesquieu in a letter from England; "in 
other words, you must live by yourself, care for no one, love 
no one, and rely on no one. . . . The English are a people of 
singular genius, but they are lonesome and sad. They are re- 
served, live most by themselves, and to themselves they keep 
their thoughts. They are unhappy amidst so many reasons 
why they should be happy." 

King Louis Philippe, in a conversation with Victor Hugo, 
recalled his prolonged exile in England: 

"Have you ever visited England? No? Well, when 
you come to England, you will find many strange things, 
entirely dissimilar to the French ways. You will be struck 
by order and cleanliness, but also by ennui. You will see 
well-pruned trees, lawns carefully mown, and you will 
find profound silence in the streets. Passers-by are serious 
and silent as ghosts. As soon as you begin talking in the 
street, which we are apt to do, you know, passers-by turn 
to have a look at you and they murmur, with an inex- 
pressible mixture of gravity and contempt: 'The French!' 
This happened more than once to me as I walked with 
my wife and sisters and as we were, naturally, talking 
among ourselves; passers-by, ordinary middle-class people, 
would turn around and groan: 'The French!'" 1 

William James wrote in a letter from England dated June 
26, 1901: 

"I am hoping to get off to Nauheim tomorrow, leaving 
Alice and Harry to follow a little later. I confess that the 
Continent 'draws' me again. I don't know whether it be 
the essential identity of soul that expresses itself in Eng- 

1 "Victor Hugo chez Louis-Philippe," Revue des Deux Mondes, i & decem- 
bre 1929. 



112 THE ENGLISH MIND 

lish things, and makes them seem known by heart already 
and intellectually dead and unexciting, or whether it is the 
singular lack of visible sentiment in England, and absence 
of 'charm,' or the oppressive ponderosity and superfluity 
and prominence of the unnecessary, or what it is, but I'm 
blest if I ever wish to be in England again. Any conti- 
nental country whatever stimulates and refreshes vastly 
more, in spite of so much strong picturesqueness here, and 
so beautiful a Nature. England is ungracious, unamiable 
and heavy; whilst the Continent is everywhere light and 
amiable and quaint, even where it is ugly, as in many ele- 
ments it is in Germany." * 

Young people, of course, sometimes revolt against the stand- 
ardization of life which leads to emotional impoverishment. 
Such a revolt, presumably experienced by the average English 
youth prior to the thorough and final molding in the image 
of his ancestors (mos maioruml), is pointedly and at times 
poignantly reflected in Ernest Raymond's charming works, 
Tell England and Daphne Bruno. His Doe, a young Eng- 
lishman who became somewhat Gallicized through the read- 
ing of French novels and through association with the French 
during the Gallipoli campaign, in an outburst of emotion 
protested: 

"Because they know how to live, ces Francis. They 
lived deeply, and felt deeply with their lovely emotional- 
ism. They ate and drank learnedly. They suffered, sym- 
pathized and loved, always deeply. They were bans 
viveurs, in the intensest meaning of the words. They live, 

1 Letters of William James, edited by Henry James, Boston, Little, Brown 
& Co., 1920, Vol. II, p. 152. 



MATOTE MAN OF ACTION 113 

they live. And because of this, his spiritual home was in 
France. Tou English,' said he, 'vous autres Anglais, with 
your d unemotionalism, empty your lives of spiritual 
experience: for emotion is life, and all that's interesting in 
life is spiritual incident. But the French they live.' " 

Hugh Walpole's Philip, looking back longingly at the days 
of his residence in Moscow when he could, if he felt lonely, 
go to the home of his friends without standing on ceremony 
and find comfort in talking with them, says: 

"There's no one willing to be bored like that. ... I 
have found some old friends Millet, Thackeray, you'll 
remember they were in Moscow two years ago. But 
with them is 'dinner eight o'clock sharp, old man got 
an engagement nine-thirty.' So I'm lonely." a 

Side by side with emotional impoverishment, there is another 
price attached to the long-continued suppression of emotions. 
It is an inclination to hypocrisy. As Daniel Defoe says, in the 
True-Born Englishman: 

"He [the Devil] knows the genius and the inclination 
And matches proper sins for every nation!" 

Hypocrisy in England as elsewhere takes many different 
shapes, all the way from slightly exaggerated decent inhibi- 
tions down to outright inability to face or express a naked 
truth. The English do not have a monopoly on hypocrisy, 
an article so current in the human vanity fair, but undoubt- 
edly they appear to have their own share of it. A man 
who is constantly on his guard against showing his true feel- 

1 Walpole, H., The Green Mirror, Grosset and Dunlap, 1917, pp. 66 f. 



114 THE ENGLISH MIND 

ings inevitably forms, however subconsciously, a propensity, 
not only for concealing his true feelings but also for showing 
feelings which in reality he does not have, but wishes others 
to believe he has. Thus he falls into what may be called emo- 
tional hypocrisy. 

Avoidance of the frank expression of emotion leads also to 
a curious form of intellectual hypocrisy, the circumlocution 
so typical of English speech. The fear of the direct and ap- 
propriate term creates a sort of no-man's-land around one's 
thought; there is almost the feeling that any thought external- 
ized without the drapings of circumlocution becomes obscenely 
naked. 

This emotional complex probably has its influence also in 
furthering the English tendency toward vague articulation. 
A foreign student of the English language usually has quite 
a hard time in accustoming himself to the truth that the more 
he tries to articulate clearly or to chisel Out the sounds of an 
English word, the more un-English his pronunciation becomes. 
It is said that three Englishmen had the following conversa- 
tion in the compartment of a train approaching a small town: 
"Is this Wembley?" asked the first. "It's Thursday," replied 
another. "So am I," rejoined the third: "Let us get out and 
have a drink." 

THE ACCEPTANCE OF HIERARCHY 

Goethe, in the Conversations with Ec\ermann, confessed 
that his impressions of the incipient democratic regime on the 
Continent did not inspire him with much optimism. "The 
misfortune in the State is," said Goethe, "that nobody can 
enjoy life in peace, but that everybody must govern." * Recent 

1 New York, E. P. Button & Co., 1930, p. 102. 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 115 

history has demonstrated similar results in successive crises 
the fiasco of the Kerensky regime in Russia, the collapse of 
parliamentary governments in post-war Italy, the extinction of 
the leap-frog cabinets of the Germany of Weimar.* Were not 
the dictatorships in Russia, Italy, and Germany brought about 
essentially by a tragic inability to co-operate in a democratic 
organization? This incapacity was very largely due to the 
unfortunate fact that too many of the eligible persons in 
these countries wished to govern, and too few were willing 
to co-operate by voluntary obedience and constructive criti- 
cism. 

England has been spared the costly experience of dictator- 
ship (the rule of Cromwell as Lord Protector was not a dic- 
tatorship in the contemporary European sense) because the 
Englishman has in addition to his love of freedom an instinct, 
as it were, of hierarchy. This instinct, which is, in the last 
analysis, the desire for the right man in the right place, lends 
a great measure of stability to the English commonwealth, 
since this sense is possessed in almost the same degree by every 
social class in England. 

The upper class has shown its sense of hierarchy not only 
through reverence for the Royal Family and homage, carefully 
graded, to the various degrees of the nobility; but also through 
a willingness to admit the right man into the right place in 
government, even if the place be high and the man be a mere 
commoner. The English aristocracy was the first to recog- 
nize, though not without much pressure from below, the 
necessity of admitting to the governing circles capable and 
ambitious commoners, and to make a practice of adopting 
them through the medium of knighthood, rather than turning 

* For the explanation of the term sec p. 365. 



Il6 THE ENGLISH MIND 

them away to become discontented revolutionary leaders of the 
masses. England is the country which has had the longest 
practice in the "circulation of the tllte? that is, in refreshing 
the tided class with newcomers recruited from the rank and 
file. As notable recent examples there may be mentioned Mr. 
Philip Snowden, the son of a miner, a bookkeeper by profes- 
sion, the late Viscount of Ickornshaw; also the Lord Mayor 
of London for 1935-36, Sir Percy Vincent, who went to London 
from a humble countryside home at the age of thirteen and 
was apprenticed in a drygoods store. Indeed, the English 
upper class, though not entirely free from the failings common 
to "vested interests," seems less in need than its social counter- 
part elsewhere of "a Minister of Hypnosis to change the men- 
tality of the well-to-do." x 

This and not a small degree of reasonableness shown by the 
upper class in admitting commoners, however grumblingly, to 
a place in the social sun at least such commoners as it would 
be unsafe to turn away finds a salutary counterpoise in the 
freedom of the lower classes from envious, exaggerated equali- 
tarianism. 

In England, the man in the street is in no sense lacking in 
self-respect, but his instinct as a mature man of action makes 
him aware that there are men far more capable than he is of 
attending to the various tasks of government; he leaves it to 
them to "worry about the Empire." 2 In general, he is ready 
to accept as his leader a better man than himself when he sees 
one. Friends of a political candidate in England would be 
very sparing in recommending him to the man in the street 
as merely "one of us, one of the people." A more or less subtle 

1 Woodruff, D., Plato's Britannia, New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1031 
p. 102. 

2 Wells, H. G., Joan and Peter, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1918, 
p. 263- 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 117 

suggestion that the candidate is the epitome of the average 
man would not do on the English hustings. Most electors 
would, not illogically, ask the question why he should be 
elected if he is no better than anybody else. The candidate 
must convince the majority that he is the best man to repre- 
sent them worthily and efficiently. Superior gifts, breeding, 
and experience do not generally disqualify candidates, even in 
distinctly "proletarian" constituencies. 

"It is this, in the larger sense, immense tolerance that 
particularly characterizes the lower classes. Even to a 
lesser degree than in the middle classes do restlessness and 
ambition exist here. To uncounted millions of British 
workmen a reasonable state of things entire would con- 
sist in the enjoyment of what is, after all, a very narrow 
margin of safety in the economic sense. This granted, 
only an infinitesimal proportion would object if some ec- 
centric millionaire should elect to bathe his lady friend 
in champagne, or would envy him his Rolls-Royce." * 

The demagogue who chronically preaches discontent and 
envy of the well-to-do is not liked in England even by the 
poorer classes. The communistic paradise of supposed equality 
for all men in all things met in contemporary England with 
no more success than did the preachments of John Ball, the 
Kentish priest of the fourteenth century, whose doctrine was 
of "bolshevistic tendency, culminating in the frankly levelling 
doctrine . . . crystallized in the famous couplet: 

'When Adam delved and Eve span, 
Who was then the gentleman?' " 2 

iFrom England Muddles Through, by H. E. Scarborough, New York, 
1932, p. 71. By permission of The Macmillan Company, publishers. 

2 Wingfield-Stratford, E., The History of British Civilization, New York, 
Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1930, pp. 262 f. 



Il8 THE ENGLISH MIND 

"An Englishman loves a lord/' remarks R A. Cavenagh: 
"One has only to look at the illustrated papers, even those 
intended for the masses, to realize that this somewhat harm- 
less foible persists." * D. H. Lawrence's Mrs. Bolton, a district 
nurse and the widow of a collier killed in an accident for 
which the management was responsible but refused to pay just 
compensation, is a character true to life: 

"It was a queer mixture of feelings the woman showed 
as she talked. She liked the colliers, whom she had nursed 
for so long; but she felt very superior to them. She felt 
almost upper class; and at the same time a resentment 
against the ruling class smouldered in her. The Masters! 
In a dispute between masters and men, she was always for 
the men. But when there was no question of contest, she 
was pining to be superior, to be one of the upper class. 
The upper classes fascinated her, appealing to her peculiar 
English passion for superiority. She was thrilled to come 
to Wragby; thrilled to talk to Lady Chatterley, my word, 
different from the common colliers' wives! She said so 
in so many words. Yet one could see a grudge against 
the Chatterleys peep out of her; the grudge against the 



masters." 2 



Lady Penmore's footman who "would give notice if he had 
to handle Mr. Keir Hardie's tweed cap," 8 is also a character 
taken from life. So is Crichton, Lord Loam's butler, who 
heartily disapproved of his master's equalitarian tendencies, 
which had inspired the baronet to compel his servants to be 
his equals once a month by taking tea with their lordships in 

1 "The Influence of the English National Character on Educational Theory 
and Practice," Internationale Zeitschrijt, 1933/34, Zweites Heft, pp. 180-181. 

2 Lawrence, D. H., Lady Chatterley' s Lover, Nesor Publishing Co., p. 86. 
8 Briffault, R., Europa, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1935, p. 170. 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION lip 

the drawing-room. Pressed by the questions of Lady Mary, a 
daughter of Lord Loam, Crichton made the admission that he 
was deeply pained and chagrined at the levity shown in the 
servants' hall. After the last meeting the page-boy so far forgot 
himself as to address him as Crichton. Of course, for such a 
breach of propriety the boy was dismissed. Crichton further 
added that he would have been compelled to give his notice if 
the master had not had a seat in the Upper House. "I cling 
to that," * he said. 

The Englishman's practical sense, reinforced by his sense of 
hierarchy, tells him that good inheritance, as proved by the 
sound achievements of a given family in the past, is an asset 
in any public servant. Hence, the characteristic English respect 
for the aristocracy; hence, the continuing political significance 
of the English nobility. The old saying, "Even a man who 
votes with the Whigs likes to dine with the Tories," needs 
today no modification beyond substituting National Labour 
for Whigs. A distinguished Scottish dominie of the nine- 
teenth century said that "no man who does not add lustre to 
his name and pedigree should mention either." Even though 
aristocratic English families fall far short of this ideal, the man 
in the street understands that long "pedigrees of responsibili- 
ties" and old names are of national value; that more often 
than not noblesse oblige unblemished lineage is a reasonable 
guarantee of probity and devotion. Besides, the average Eng- 
lishman realizes with increasing clarity that all is not smooth 
in the path of the nobleman; that "the religion of aristocracy 
demands its sacrifices," which range from exile on the fron- 
tiers of the Empire to loveless marriage; that, in short, it de- 
mands real stoicism, this "accepting without question, the 

x Barrie, J. M., The Admirable Crichton, New York, Charles Scribner's 
Sons, 1919, pp. 25 f. 



120 THE ENGLISH MIND 

monstrous dogma that the best things in life should be sac- 
rificed to the bricks and mortar of a family seat." * 

The middle class occupies in England a very strong position, 
and lends to the English body national a stability quite un- 
usual in these newer times. The middle class of any nation 
must in the nature of things serve as backbone to the whole. 
On the Continent, however, even in countries free from 
dictatorships of demagogues, it has become a backbone consid- 
ered only from the standpoint of how much it will bear with- 
out breaking. Not so in England, where the middle class is 
the true master of the government, a reasonable master, re- 
spectful of the upper class and not too harsh to the lower, but 
a master who knows his own value and power, and uses them 
whenever necessary. England, it seems, has come closer than 
any other nation of modern times, though only gradually and 
not without conflict, to the realization of the Aristotelian ideal 
of the balance of political power: 

"The legislator should always include the middle class 
in his government; if he makes his laws oligarchical, to 
the middle class let him look; if he makes them demo- 
cratical, he should equally by his laws try to attach this 
class to the state; there only can the government ever be 
stable where the middle class exceeds one or both of the 
others, and in that case there will be no fear that the rich 
will unite with the poor against the rulers. For neither of 
them will ever be willing to serve the other, and, if they 
look for some form of government more suitable to both, 
they will find none better than this, for the rich and the 
poor will never consent to rule in turn, because they mis- 
trust one another. The arbiter is always the one trusted, 

Lunn, A,, Family Name, New York, The Dial Press, 1932, p. 57. 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 121 

and he who is in the middle is an arbiter. The more per- 
fect the admixture of the political elements, the more last- 
ing will be the state. Many even of those who desire to 
form aristocratic governments make a mistake, not only 
in giving too much power to the rich, but in attempting 
to over-reach the people. Then comes a time when out 
of a false good there arises a true evil, since the encroach- 
ments of the rich are more destructive to the State than 
those of the people." 1 

It is interesting to note that the marked increase in popu- 
larity enjoyed by the British monarchy in recent years has been 
coincident with, and to a large degree caused by, the* Royal 
Family's becoming definitely middle class by its embow- 
geoisement, as the French call it. In the vast flood of patriotic 
literature of the Silver Jubilee year, many revealing documents 
disclose the various reasons why the average Englishman is 
loyal to the King and the Royal Family. The King was ex- 
tolled as a husband, as a father, as a sportsman, as a philan- 
thropist, as an English squire the King who earned his pro- 
motions in the Royal Navy, the King who suffered as no one 
else could suffer in the World War, the King whose chief dis- 
tinction in the bitter days of reconstruction was that he had 
kept his head and remembered to smile. He was represented 
as the perfect apotheosis of an English gentleman, whose pa- 
ternal affections, by the Grace of God, embraced the uttermost 
reaches of his Dominions, but whose responsibilities in no way 
impaired his relish for a jest, a boat, or a horse. In the eyes 
of the English press he was the best-beloved monarch since the 
mythical King Arthur. Beloved, it would seem, because he 
was shy, because he accepted the mediocrity of kingship with 

1 Politics, Book IV. 



122 THE ENGLISH MIND 

such serious grace, because he was so reassuringly middle class 
in attainments, ambitions, virtues, and affections; as dear for 
what he was not, as for what he was held to be. 

As we have already observed, the English sense of hierarchy 
has co-existed, in a remarkable manner, with a sense of self- 
respect and a proud, uncompromising love of liberty reli- 
gious, civil, and political. This happy psychological combina- 
tion, which is of inestimable political value, has, to be sure, 
developed gradually; in the just words of Emerson, "they have 
in seven hundred years evolved the principles of freedom." 
But the result is the truly admirable inner political harmony 
which England possesses and which justifies the Englishman's 
claim to the title of a mature man of action. The true basis 
of this harmony is the inviolability of the fundamental liber- 
ties of the individual under English law "the sacredness of 
the individual." 

This marvel the harmony between hierarchy and inde- 
pendence, between the ability to lose oneself in a collective 
action and the power to preserve a sound measure of indi- 
vidualismis, indeed, such a very rare occurrence in the po- 
litical history of mankind as to justify further emphasis even 
in the inevitably cursory discussion permitted by the limits of 
the present volume. 

The King is the apex of the English State, because he so well 
performs the King's function as guardian of the Constitution 
that guarantees to the Englishman his fundamental liberties. 
There is nothing menial in the average man's reverence to- 
ward the King. After George V was solemnly greeted on his 
way to St. Paul's for the Silver Jubilee Te Deum, he was infor- 
mally serenaded by rollicking crowds with the happy famil- 
iarity, "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow ." Dickens did not hesi- 
tate to describe King John as "a miserable brute," and Henry 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 123 

VIII as "a blot of blood and grease upon the History of Eng- 
land." The average Englishman respectfully admits to their 
place in the sun the royalties, the aristocracy, and the rich, but 
he sees that his fundamental rights to existence, to equality 
before the courts of law, to the inviolability of his human per- 
sonality, are fully secured. In fact he is jealous of all that he 
understands to be his rights, great or small. 

It seems one of his less agreeable peculiarities that the Eng- 
lishman is as insistent about his petty rights as about his fun- 
damental rights. The cartoonist of Punch took his point well 
in a dialogue between a drowning Briton and his would-be 
rescuer: "Keep your mouth shut and don't struggle." "All 
right, all right; who is drowning you or me?" 

Whether poor or rich, the Englishman's dwelling is his 
castle, and his basic personal rights are protected by common 
and statute law. The British criminologist can proudly say 
that "Great Britain is the only country in the world . . , 
where the police are forbidden to question accused persons 
after they have decided to prosecute them." * The prisoner is 
cautioned that anything he might say could be used in evi- 
dence at the trial; no "third degree" procedure is permissible. 
Among the old patriotic songs of various nations few seem to 
be as justified by history as the proud British refrain: "Britons 
never will be slaves." 

When abroad, the individual Englishman is protected by the 
might of his land as only the Roman citizen was protected in 
the best times of the Roman Empire, when the proud declara- 
tion Cms romanus sum insured consideration as far as the 
name of Rome had traveled. The sacredness of each of His 
Majesty's subjects as a human individual, wherever he goes, is 

1 Thomson, Sir B., The Story of Scotland Yard, New York, Doubleday, 
Doran & Co., 1936, p. 117. 



124 ' I ^ HE ENGLISH MIND 

a vital link in the peculiarly English fruitful unity between 
the sense of hierarchy and love of liberty. This has been 
clearly sensed by the more penetrating foreign students of the 
English national character, as is illustrated by an anecdote of 
Marshal Foch: 

". . . [In 1910 Henry] Wilson put the direct question 
to the commandant of the Ecole Superieure de Guerre: 
"What would you say was the smallest British military 
force that would be of any practical assistance to you in 
the event of a contest such as we have been considering 
[Germany invading France via Belgium] ?' 'One single 
private soldier/ responded Foch on the instant, "and we 
would take good care that he was killed.' What he evi- 
dently had in mind was the moral effect upon the French 
troops of knowing that England was standing by them, 
and the certainty that, even if only a single British soldier 
arrived, it would insure others coming the more so if the 
soldier fell." 1 

The other aspect of the Englishman's inner political har- 
monyhis sound individualism combined with the ability to 
lose himself in a collective action remains to be discussed. 
however briefly. 

Collective action presupposes a certain degree of voluntary 
self-renunciation on the part of individual participants; but it 
can be a powerful and fertile action only when the individual 
members of the collectivity really have a self to renounce. 
The Englishman certainly has a strongly developed self, of 
which he is jealous, probably too jealous. In the Fragments 
of Novalis, the German poet (d. 1801), there is the much 

1 Callwell, Sir C. R, Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, New York, Charles 
Scribner's Sons, 1927, Vol. I, pp. 77 f. 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 125 

quoted observation that "not only England, but every English- 
man is an island." It was a classical remark that an English- 
man made to a friend whom he invited to join the St. James 
Club: "I like to go to that place; they have a nice glue in the 
library room, and I don't know a soul there." 

Patrick Balfour relates how when traveling in a remote 
part of Persia his car passed another car in which was an Eng- 
lishman whom he knew; neither of them had the faintest idea 
that the other was in Persia. By way of greeting, the two Brit- 
ishers bowed, smiled at each other, and passed on without 
stopping, just as they would have done had they been in taxi- 
cabs in Piccadilly. "Thus do Englishmen conform to type 
even in the wilds of Asia," x pointedly remarks Mr. Balfour. 

Yet when England needs the collective service of her sons 
and daughters, all these "incommunicable islands" become 
mere pegs, large or small, in the wheel. When the English 
Ship of State sets sail for action, everybody on board is busy, 
everybody knows his place and is in it, the King, Lords, Com- 
mons a model collectivity. But as soon as the ship comes to 
port, the Englishman proves by every detail of his demeanor 
that the self-effacement and obedience practiced by him while 
in collective action has not impaired at all his love for inde- 
pendence, which is the precious source and guarantee of the 
great English political institutions. The following story of 
which it can be said, si non % vero, bene trovato was told 
by a combatant in the World War: 

"Six British soldiers were incarcerated for several days in 
a dugout. Finally they were liberated. Two of the im- 
prisoned Tommies were Scotsmen, and, when found, they 
were discussing theology. Two others were Irishmen; 

1 Grand Tour, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1935, p. 89. 



126 THE ENGLISH MIND 

they were fighting. The remaining two were English- 
men and they were completely disregarding one another 
for the good reason that no one had introduced them." * 

The reverse side of the English sense of hierarchy is snob- 
bishness. The latter is much more of a social institution in 
England than in any other country, save perhaps in China. It 
must be said, however, in fairness to English snobs, that their 
snobberies can be divided into three not equally disagreeable 
types. 

One variety readily takes the form of malevolent and cruelly 
offensive disregard for the human dignity of those who are 
not properly introduced, and who do not belong; this is well 
described in the following words of Aldous Huxley: 

"But the way in which they turned to one another and 
continued their interrupted discussion of race horses, was 
so intentionally offensive that Illidge wanted to kick 
them." 2 

Another kind of snobbery is described by Thackeray: 

". . . It seems to me that all English society is cursed by 
this mammoniacal superstition; and that we are sneaking 
and bowing and cringing on the one hand, or bullying 
and scorning on the other, from the lowest to the highest. 
My wife speaks with great circumspection 'proper pride' 
she calls it to our neighbor the tradesman's lady; and she, . 
I mean Mrs. Snob Eliza would give one of her eyes to 
go to Court, as her cousin, the Captain's wife, did. She, . 
again, is a good soul, but it costs her agonies to be obliged 
to confess that we live in Upper Thompsen street, Somer's 

1 Mental Hygiene, March, 1930. 

2 Point Counter Point, New York, Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1928, p. 42. 



MATURE MAN OF ACTION 127 

Town. And though I believe in her heart Mrs. Whisker- 
ington is fonder of us than of her cousins, the Smigsmags, 
you should hear how she goes on prattling about Lady 
Smigsmag, and 1 said to Sir John, my dear John/ and 
about the Smigsmags' house and parties in Hyde Park 
Terrace." 1 

There is, however, the third kind of snobbery, which is illus- 
trated in an incident related by Richard G. White. His seat 
on a train was in a first-class carriage in which he found 
another passenger, an English woman to whom he refers as 
an "angelic-beauty." 

"Soon I was conscious that some persons whom I did 
not see were about entering the^open door, when my 
angelic-beauty sprang from her seat, and placing herself 
before the- door cried out, 'No, you shan't come in! I 
won't have third-class people in the carriage!' There was 
remonstrance which I did not hear and the people at- 
tempted to enter. She then threw her arm across the 
door-way like a bar, clasping firmly one side of the car- 
riage with a beautiful white dimpled hand, Catherine 
Douglas, when she thrust her arm through the staples 6f 
the door, to keep out the pursuers of the king, could not 
have been more terribly in earnest. She (my Catherine 
Douglas) almost screamed out, 'Go back! Go back! You 
shan't come in! This is a first-class carriage, and I won't 
have third-class people put 'into it!'" 2 

We wonder if it is into this variety of snob that the little Eng- 
lish girl will graduate, the, one to whom Punch dedicated an 

1 The Eoo\ of Snob's, Boston, Estes and Lauriat, 1891, p. 412. 

2 White, R. G., England Within and Without, Boston, 1894, p. 56; used by 
permission of, and by arrangement with, Houghton Mifflin Co. 



128 THE ENGLISH MIND 

instructive cartoon: The little girl was being punished; she had 
been ordered to stand in a corner, facing the wall, and was 
crying. The cook entered the room and said soothingly: 
"Well, well, Miss Janet, and haven't you stopped crying yet?" 
The answer was: "I have not, Nanny. I'll ring when I have." 
It is, doubtless, in the defense of such snobs that George San- 
tayana wrote his "Apology for Snobs." * 

1 Soliloquies in England, cit., pp. 45 ff. 



Chapter III 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 



THE UTILITARIAN 

THERE is nothing of which the average Englishman is more 
suspicious or contemptuous than the vagabond type of mind; 
the man who plays with ideas for the fun of it and, more rep- 
rehensible still, who talks as he toys with abstractions and 
imponderables. The English bias is for utility. Why should 
this be so? Is it that he is impressed unduly impressed, it 
may be with the irresistible flow of time? Do the fluent 
hours admonish the practical Englishman that man's duty is 
to act? Or is it that the Englishman is instinctively afraid of 
the moral poisoning that may result from thoughts unspent in 
action and is therefore inclined to avoid transports of thought 
and imagination, unless for the purpose of and in connection 
with activity ? Or is it, perhaps, the subconscious fear that the 
play with ideas might lead to self-analysis and thus disturb the 
comfortable self-respect on which his stolid world is based? 1 
Or is it more probable that the Englishman's instinct as an 
empire-builder impels him to distrust intellectual gymnastics? 
Is it that the man of action senses the truth which Anatole 
France has reduced to an aphorism: "He who wants to under- 
stand everything cannot build an empire"? In other words, 

1 Cf. Rosenstock, E., Die europaisch Revolutionen, Jena, E. Diedrichs, 1931, 
8.306. 

129 



130 THE ENGLISH MIND 

has not the Englishman instinctively felt that intellectualism 
may readily become an enemy to that political mysticism on 
which the continuity of the Empire depends? 

Whatever may be the cause, the effect is clear; it is the 
Englishman's "impious skepticism of theory." * 

George Bourne records that a Surrey peasant of his acquaint- 
ance defined learning as "knowing how to do things." The 
peasant knew nothing of Carlyle, but, as the annalist observes, 
"It is substantially Carlyle's doctrine that he advocates; he ad- 
mires efficiency." 2 It may be added that this Surrey peasant 
is an intellectual brother of Francis Bacon and John Locke, 
probably the most representative English philosophers. 

It is more than a mere accident of history that in England 
the first stir of intellectual curiosity and independent thinking 
of the later Middle Ages inspired the work of Roger Bacon, 
doctor mirdbilis, who, in opposition to the medieval fondness 
for the method of deduction and for explanation on the basis 
of authority, reverted to the method of induction, fruitfully 
applied by the ancients to the natural sciences. When the 
lusty freedom of the Renaissance invaded the realm of Euro- 
pean philosophy, another Englishman, also a Bacon, ex- 
pounded fully in the Novum organum, the inductive method, 
which, proceeding from the individual to the general, condi- 
tions truth by facts. 

This practical and typically English mind-set found its fur- 
ther fruition in the philosophy of John Locke, who extolled 
the experience of the senses as the foundation of dependable 
knowledge. He was a superlatively utilitarian thipker, averse 

1 Emerson, R. W., English Traits, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1888, 
p. 83. 

2 The Bettesworth Boofc Td%s with a Surrey Peetspnt, London, Duckworth 
and Co., 1910, p. 279. 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALlSt 

to intellectualism in the Continental meaning of the term, 
that is, to thinking and arguing as mere intellectual sport. 

"As he always kept the useful in his eye, in all his dis- 
quisitions he esteemed the employment of men only in 
proportion to the good they were capable of producing; 
for which reason he had no great value for those critics 
or mere grammarians, that waste their lives in comparing 
words and phrases. . . . Mr. Locke also disliked those 
authors that labour only to destroy, without establishing 
anything themselves. 'A building,' said he, 'displeases 
them. They find great faults in it; let them demolish it, 
and welcome, provided they endeavour to raise another in 
its place, if it be possible.' " * 

ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM OF THE PRACTICAL 
ENGLISHMAN 

' English anti-intellectualism presents, as might be expected, 
some positive, some neutral, and some negative aspects. On 
the positive side of the balance sheet there is the sound utili- 
tarian desire to employ thinking power for practical and con- 
structive ends; there is also the development of an intuitive 
effort toward comprehending the imponderables of men's char- 
acter. On the negative side may be noted the distrust of the 
"brainy" fellow and the exaggerated, "impious skepticism of 
theory." Between these two manifestations, the positive and 
the negative, there stands what may be called the anti- 
intellectual trifling of the English mind. This "neutral" anti- 
intellectualism consists in reluctance to explain an accepted 

1 From John Locfa by Thomas Fowler, New York, 1906, pp. 42-43. By 
permission of The Macmillan Company, publishers; The Wor\s of John 
Loc\e, Vol. X, pp. 162-174. 



132 THE ENGLISH MIND 

course of action or events, a nationally accepted attitude of 
mind. The positive aspects of anti-intellectualism, or such as 
are on the whole more positive than negative, will first engage 
our attention. 

The generally disapproving attitude of the English with re- 
gard to purely intellectual discussion in conversation or in writ- 
ing is often wrongly interpreted by the Continentals. 

What is taken by more than one Continental intellectual for 
dullness or sluggish stupidity, may prove, in the long run, an 
instance of wholesome utilitarianism. The Englishman who 
says so little is not lightly moved by specious arguments. 
While keeping his own counsel, he cannily weighs the impli- 
cations of others. The English have long maintained a sound 
empirical skepticism toward the magic formulas of political 
and economic Utopias. 

Similarly, the theological and philosophical apathies of the 
English have led to false interpretations. When the English 
politician or man of letters shows a lack of interest in clever 
but barren criticism, it is unfair to dismiss his attitude as one 
of sterile anti-intellectualism. It may prove another instance 
of common sense and sound aversion to false intellectualism 
and verbose banter. The philosophy of such an attitude of 
mind is well presented in the following reflection found in the 
diary of Henri Frederic Amiel, the liberal Swiss thinker: 

"How maleficent, contagious and unwholesome is the 
eternal smile of the indifferent critic, the heartless and 
corrosive mockery that chaffs and demolishes everything, 
takes no interest in any personal duty or in any vulnerable 
affection, and, without caring to act, cares only to under- 
stand! To me, this ironical contemplation is immoral, 
like Pharisaism, for it does not preach by example and it 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 133 

imposes upon others the burdens that it rejects for itself. 
It is insolent, for it feigns knowledge, while it has only 
doubt. It is deadly, for its Voltairean laugh dispels cour- 
age, faith and ardour in those who still possess them, 

"Rire dc singe assis sur la destruction? as Alfred de 
Musset says. Criticism that has become a routine, a mere 
habit and system means the abolition of moral energy, 
faith and all strength. . . . This order of mind ... is 
very dangerous, for it pampers every bad instinct, indis- 
cipline, irreverence, selfish individualism, and it ends in 
social atomism. . . . Woe if negation rules, for life is an 
affirmation." 2 



. . . . 

idst the demagogic hysteria of panaceas which is preva- 

lent in the world at large, the refusal of the English public to 
be fascinated by millennial doctrines, however well-worded, 
to be swept off their feet by phrases, however grandiloquent, is 
among the most valuable safeguards of civilization. Henry 
W. Nevinson has aptly expressed it: 

"The words Liberty, Equality, Fraternity are too abstract 
for the Englishman's mind. He applauds them, just as he 
may applaud the Russian ballet or French fashions for 
women, but they are foreign to his nature. We would 
fight for Liberty, but we much prefer to call it Freedom, 
as implying something more solid and tangible. We think 
Fraternity too soft and affected a sort of thing. When the 
Englishman receives a letter signed Tours fraternally,' he 
suspects a tiresome crank. And as to Equality, I fear that 
all Bernard Shaw's knowledge, acumen, and superb 

1 The laugh of an ape, perched on destruction. 

2 From The Private Journal of Henri F. Amiel, New York, 1935, pp. 168 f. 
By permission of The Macmillan Company, publishers. 



134 rHE ENGLISH MIND 

idealism, as displayed in the Intelligent Woman's Guide 
to Socialism and Capitalism, will pass over the heads of 
the English people as something impracticable and for- 
eign." 1 

England certainly has to her credit the work of her disin- 
terested, non-utilitarian scholars, men of letters, and artists. 
The compliment paid to England by the great Renaissance 
leader, Erasmus, in a letter still holds true: 

"The men are sensible and intelligent. Many of them 
are even learned and not superficially either. They know 
their classics. . . . When Colet speaks, I might be listen- 
ing to Plato. Linacre is as deep and acute a thinker as I 
have ever met with. Grocyn is a mine of knowledge." 

Yet it is also true that it is the practical scientist who enjoys 
real popularity and respect in England. The non-utilitarian 
studies enjoy a much smaller measure of popular encourage- 
ment and recognition there than perhaps in any other Euro- 
pean country. England has had her Utopian dreamers and her 
crusaders for lost causes. At the same time she has had the 
luck of possessing intellectuals who, while promoting science 
and the arts, remained free from the reproach addressed by 
Confucius to one of his disciples: "Don't be a fool, when you 
try to be a -great scholar." 

On the other hand, though England has given to the world 
a fair share of men who "sitting by their studious lamps" em- 
ployed their superior gifts in a disinterested search for truth 
whether scientific or philosophical or aesthetic, meditative and 
erudite minds are by no means as highly appreciated by. the 
general public in England as they are in France, and were, 

1 The English, London, George RoutLedge and Sons, 1929, p. 91. 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 135 

until recently, in Germany. English national universities exer- 
cise little influence on the conduct of public affairs. 

Poets and speculative philosophers, and, indeed, all those 
whose interests are divorced trom the practical affairs of life, 
are held more or less under suspicion in England and cannot 
hope to receive adequate recognition. England has her poet 
laureate, but he is never taken seriously. The attitude of the 
unalloyed "regular" Britisher in respect to poetry is well re- 
flected in the remark of a character of Waugh's Loom of 
Youth: "Oh, poetry, that's all right for Clarempnt and asses 
like that, but what's the use of it?" 1 It may be remembered 
that Shelley's mother, who "liked a man to be a fighter," 
would "watch with disgust her eldest son go off into the woods 
carrying a book under his arm instead of a gun." 2 

"The great end of life is not knowledge, but action," de- 
clared T. H. Huxley in his Technical Education. To the Eng- 
lishman's mind, the really respectable and worth-while knowl- 
edge is that which can serve as a reliable guide for action, in 
other words, the exact knowledge of which the mathematical 
and natural sciences are capable; hence, England has become 
an international nursery for the popularization of scientific 
studies. The Englishman's fondness for the sciences is not 
free from a certain degree of contradiction to his conservatism, 
because the sciences have been among the most powerful 
sources of economic, social, and political changes, which are 
concomitant with every new industrial revolution. 

It is interesting also to note how Aldous Huxley's love of 
exact science triumphs, at times, over his artistic sense. Fac- 
tual information of all kinds being one of his ambitions, arid 

1 London, Cassell & Co., 1929, p. 153. 

2 Maurois, A., Ariel: The life oj Shelley, New York, D. Appleton and Co., 
1924, p. ii. 



136 THE ENGLISH MIND 

the Encyclopaedia Britannica his favorite reading, accompany- 
ing him, we are told, even on pleasure trips, Mr. Huxley can- 
not resist the temptation to share his learning with his readers 
in improbable and artistically dubious passages in his novels, 
like the one in Point Counter Point, where Marjorie, bitter at 
her pregnancy and the prospect of becoming the mother of an 
illegitimate child, is made to think of her baby in terms of 
the biological evolution of man, developing from the stage of 
a single cell through that of a worm and then a fish to the 
status of the mammal foetus. This tendency of Mr. Huxley's is 
perhaps a result of the Briton's desire to justify his scholarship 
by service to his readers and of the wish thus to square his avid 
intellectual curiosity with the condemnation of theoretical 
knowledge when divorced from life and service. One of his fa- 
vorite minor themes, this is presented with an especially 
strong touch of feeling in the Helen-Hugh kissing episode of 
Eyeless in Gaza, where Mr. Huxley finds occasion to denounce 
at length "Higher Lifers," unpractical and aloof "pure" schol- 
ars, philosophers, and men of science, as "Higher Shirkers." 2 

The Englishman's utilitarian interest in and respect for exact 
knowledge seems to be much more an asset than a liability; it 
does not seriously interfere with the average Englishman's tra- 
ditional loyalties, religious or otherwise, even though these 
loyalties be inexplicable in terms of the exact sciences. 

Among variniM p^vr ^omWot-irmc rf ^nglifih utili- 
tarianism, there is one which seems particularly an English 
quality the intense, though discreet, interest in 'human na^ 
ture. The English have developed, almost to a mysterious 

1 Op. dt. t p. 205. 

2 Cf. Huxley, A., Eyeless in Gaza, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1936, pp. 
171-173, 186. 



THE ANTMNTELLECTUALIST 137 

intuition, thgjrjbnit^ to judge character. Hence the unusual 
record of integrity shown by English courts and administra- 
tion. The English people, through the already long history 
of their enjoyment of the franchise, have made practically no 
serious errors with relation to the character of the men to 
whom they have entrusted the care of national interests. "I 
make no claims to great knowledge, but I am a good judge 
of horses and men," Lord Bentinck used to say. The majority 
of British statesmen charged with the heavy duty of naming 
appointments for the Crown, before and since Lord Bentinck's 
time, have proved their knowledge of men; the English nation 
has to its credit a higher record of diligence and integrity in 
the conduct of national affairs than have other Great Powers. 

"NEUTRAL" ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM: GENUINE 
AND INSINCERE 

The '"neutral" anti-intellectualism of the English is genuine 
whenever it consists in a reluctance to explain something that 
has already been accomplished. On the other hand, it is mere 
intellectual trifling, not unassociated with intellectual hypoc- 
risy, when the English pretend that, as a nation they have 
always been hopelessly and helplessly illogical, especially in 
their dealings with the outside world, because such is their 
inborn, incurable way of doing things. Nothing in history 
obliges us to take Dean Inge seriously when he asserts: "We 
are honest but dull and stupid, for which reason we are fre- 
quently outwitted by the nimbler intellect of our rivals" 1 
History obliges us to agree not with the distinguished clergy- 
man but with his German acquaintance, who indignantly said: 

3 England, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1926, p. 40- 



138 THE ENGLISH MIND 

"Why do you English look such fools? You deceive us com- 
pletely!" 1 

Genuine "neutral" anti-intellectualism has manifested itself, 
for example, in the fact that the English asajjglitical com- 
monwealth do not have any theory'of rhemselvesr^Indced^ the 
Trench scholar De Tocqueville 2 was justified, in a sense, in 
declaring that the English Constitution does not really exist. 
The English do not possess one authoritative document to 
embody the principles underlying the fundamental political 
institutions of England. It may be observed, however, that, 
while for some nations their written constitutions exist prac- 
tically on paper only, the "non-existent" English constitution 
functions efficiently and makes of England a rare place, where 
a man enjoys the fullest degree of protection combined with 
the highest degree of personal freedom. 

Disbelieving in universal and absolute panaceas, the English 
have shown themselves capable of necessary changes in the 
face of national crises and under the pressure of economic and 
social readjustment. Opposed by temperament to sweeping 
revolutionary doctrines, the English, as A. Lawrence Lowell 
has observed, have built a remarkable political system, which 
"has grown up by a continual series of adaptations to existing 
needs. This very fact has made it on the whole more con- 
sistent with itself, has brought each part more into harmony 
with the rest, than is the case in any other government." 3 In 
this sense it may be maintained that their fundamental insti- 
tutions were never planned. As a character of Mr. H. G. 
Wells's declares: 

1 More Lay Thoughts of a Dean, New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1932, 
p. 297. 

2 La Democratic en Amerique, I, vi. 

3 Lowell, A. L., The Government of England, New York, The Macmillan 
Company, 1912, Vol. I, p. 14. 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 139 

"Nobody planned the British estate system; nobody 
planned the confounded Constitution. It came about, it 
was like layer after layer wrapping around an agate, but 
you see it came about so happily in a way, it so suited the 
climate and the temperament of our people and our is- 
land; it was on the whole so cozy that our people settled 
down into it." x 

A few other interesting examples of the reluctance of the 
Englishman to announce in elaborate theories what he intends 
to do, and his still greater reluctance to explain what he has 
already done, may be cited. It was the English political genius^ 
that perfected the parliamentary form of government^ but it 
took a Frenchman to crystallize the great tenets of British 
political philosophy and define the basic principle of the sep- 
aration of powers legislative, judiciary, and executive. The 
Englishman had applied this principle for more than a century 
before Montesquieu defined it in his Esprit des Lois of 1748. 
In spite of the excellence of their judicial system, the English 
have never produced a single guide for the administration of 
justice comparable to the celebrated Code Napoleon. Tenny- 
son said: 

"It is the land that freemen till, 
That sober-suited Freedom chose, 
That land where girt with friends or foes 
A man may speak the thing he will; 

"A land of settled government, 
A land of just and old renown, 
Where Freedom slowly broadens down 
From precedent to precedent." 

1 Mr. Britling Sees It Through, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1917, 
p. 32. 



140 THE ENGLISH MIND 

After the dedication of generations of statesmen to the policy 
of free trade, high officials of the British Foreign Office re- 
ceived as a revelation an interpretation of the effect of Eng- 
land's free trade policy upon her international situation, 
written in 1907: 

"Second only to the ideal of independence, nations have 
always cherished the right of free intercourse and trade 
in the world's market and in proportion as England cham- 
pions the principle of the largest measure of general free- 
dom of commerce she undoubtedly strengthens, increases 
her hold on the interested friendship of other nations at 
least to the extent of making them feel less apprehensive 
of naval supremacy in the hands of a free-trade England 
than they would in the face of a predominant protection- 
ist power. This is an aspect of the free trade question 
which is apt to be overlooked. It has been well said that 
every country if it had the option would, of course, prefer 
itself to hold the power of supremacy at sea but that this 
choice being excluded it would rather see England hold 
that power than any other state." 1 

Seven hundred years after the establishment of the Uni- 
versity of Oxford, we read: 

"There is no person or body in Oxford competent to 
declare what the functions of the university are. Among 
individuals the conception thereof differs immensely. 
. . . Oxford has never felt the necessity of declaring its 
purpose because it has always found that purpose in its 

1 "Memorandum by Mr. [later Sir] Eyre Crowe [at the time Senior Clerk, 
Foreign Office] on the Present Status of British Relations with France and 
Germany, January i, 1907," British Documents on the Origins of the War, 
fit., Vol. Ill, pp. 397-420, esp. pp. 403, 420. 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 

own traditions, moulded slowly by the pressure of eco- 
nomic and social revolutions." x 

Side by side with such instances of genuine neutral utili- 
tarian anti-intellectualism, there can be observed in the history 
of the English nation, as well as in the daily conduct of in- 
dividual Englishmen, not less significant cases of pretended 
anti-intellectualism. 

When an Englishman rises in Parliament to make a major 
address, he almost invariably makes a point of fumbling and 
stumbling at the beginning. Small wonder that he is given 
to such insincere intellectual acrobatics. In his student days 
he was careful to pretend, in accordance with the accepted 
code, that he never bent himself to serious study. The English 
schoolboy must swagger out a failure and roundly apologize 
for a first; so the English statesman deliberately conceals the 
hard thinking and studious preparation which he puts into 
a piece of intellectual work, preferring to present it as the 
result of mere idle though talented inspiration. An attentive 
student of English national character has observed: 

"Often I have been present, usually a silent dissenter, 
whilst the 'stupid Englishman' was torn to pieces in a 
friendly way. His slowness, his lack of enterprise, his dull- 
ness, his 'stodginess' have been noted by Americans, Can- 
adians, Irish, Scottish or Australian critics. I thought: 
Tes, curiously, these stupid, unimaginative people have 
done the biggest things ever recorded in history. 9 The 
Englishman would not say that for himself. . . . He de- 
lights to represent his country as always going to the dogs. 
He growls at his own characteristics, partly because the 
love of a civil growl is inherent in the English tempera- 

1 The Government of Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1931, p. 63. 



142 THE ENGLISH MIND 

ment as is illustrated by Pinero's definition of the ideal 
club secretary as 'one who gives members every excuse but 
no reason to grumble.' " * 

The Englishman, when his interests demand it, plays to 
perfection illogicalness and muddleheadedness. Mr. Bernard 
Shaw, in Saint Joan, puts into the mouth of Charles the fol- 
lowing quite unhistorical statement: "If we can only have a 
treaty, the English are sure to have the worst of it, because 
they are better at fighting than at thinking." 2 In the course 
of history the French have learned, at their own expense, to 
know the ability of the English as diplomats. It may be men- 
tioned that during the peace negotiations at Versailles the 
English delegates showed impatience with clear-cut arguments 
of the French, when the particularly lucid French logic threat- 
ened to become unprofitable to the English. One of their 
diplomats wrote to a friend back in London: "The 'Latins' 
with their clarity easily irritate me; I prefer our muddled, non- 
intellectual, heavy, and hum-drum manner of seeing things." 8 

It was a round case of hypocrisy when Cromwell declared 
that never can man be at a greater height of his manly activity 
than when he does not know where he is going. 4 At all events 
the subsequent encirclement of the world's seas with English- 
owned or "leased" straits, naval bases, and coaling stations, 
and the creation of the newest English imperial superstructure, 
the "vertical African Empire" from the Cape to Cairo to 
mention a few examples among many have certainly not 
come about entirely "like layer after layer wrapping around 

1 Fox, P., The English (7909-7922), New York, E. P. Dutton & Co., 1923, 
pp.92f. 

2 New York, Brentano's, 1924, p. 42. 

3 Nicolson, H., "Lorsqu'on preparait la paix," Revue de Paris, 15 septembre 
1935, P- 281. 

4 Rosenstock, E., Die europaisch Revolutionen, dt. t S. 306. 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 143 

an agate." Even though it is true that nobody planned the 
British estate system and nobody planned the Constitution, 
it is not true that the English, as they are inclined to pre- 
tend, simply tumbled into an empire, casually conquered for 
the mother country by her restless younger sons, who, under 
the law of primogeniture, were forced to seek fortune over- 
seas. 

It is also intellectual dalliance when the Englishman pre- 
tends that the English simply "muddle through" the most 
trying crises, such as a modern war, with practically no organ- 
ization, just by the sheer genius for blundering to victory. 

Everyone who has resided in England knows that the Eng- 
lish police system and the judiciary are among the most effi- 
cient and best organized in the world. Every intelligent Eng- 
lishman also knows this, of course, and is legitimately proud 
of his country, as probably surpassing the rest of the world 
with regard to police protection and the administration of 
justice. Similarly, the English soldier did not exaggerate when 
he wrote from the front: 

"Really I think the British postal arrangement out here 
one of the most remarkable features of the war. The 
organization behind our lines is quite extraordinary. Right 
here on the firing line itself we get our letters and parcels 
every day. In the midst of quite a considerable bombard- 
ment I have seen fellows in artillery shelters in the line, 
reading letters and opening parcels of little luxuries re- 
ceived from home." * 

The English may be averse to political formulas, but they 
have certainly never failed to remember the one coined by 
Lord Bacon: "This much is certain: that he that commands 

1 The Forum, cit., Vol. 56, p. 412. 



144 THE ENGLISH MIND 

the sea is at great liberty, and may take as much and as little 
of the war as he will." * 

The Monseigneur Cauchon of Shaw's Saint Joan may be 
right with regard to English theologians when he says, "The 
thick air of your country does not breed theologians." 2 But 
in that thick air the doctrines or dogmas of the Foreign 
Office have been elaborated with fine and subtle logic, and 
have been carried out with an impressive consistency and con- 
tinuity. "The route to India," justly remarks M. A. Tomazi, 
in a recent article published by Miroir du Monde, "is the 
masterpiece of British political genius. Gibraltar, Malta, Aden, 
and the Suez Canal are the great landmarks of the route, all 
strategic points which, between Liverpool and Bombay, are 
controlled by Great Britain. This route continues eastward, 
through Colombo, Singapore and Hongkong." 

Consider, for example, how well-thought-out and carefully 
assembled is the Mediterranean aspect of the "life-line" of the 
British Empire, those strategic corner stones on which English 
imperialism has succeeded in building the greatest empire yet 
seen by history. The initial link of the Mediterranean chain, 
Gibraltar, was taken and fortified by 1704. By the end of 
the century England got hold of Corsica. Forced to give this 
island up, she acquired Malta in 1800, and still holds it. At 
the Congress of Berlin, in 1878, she presented herself, at the 
expense of the Turk, with the island of Cyprus, another 
strategic watch-tower and naval station in the eastern Mediter- 
ranean. In 1881 England occupied Egypt "to protect the 
khedive," and by 1897 extended her "protection" to include the 
Egyptian Sudan. In 1904, profiting by the embarrassment of 

1 Essays: Of Expense. * New York, Brentano's, 1924, p. 71. 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 145 

France's ally, Russia, an embarrassment created by the Japa- 
nese not without encouragement from England, she brought 
the French virtually to acquiesce in English dominance in the 
Mediterranean Sea. 

As a result of the World War, England acquired control of 
the strategically important parts of the eastern coast of the 
Mediterranean and of the hinterland Palestine, Hedjaz, Meso- 
potamia; a pan-Arabic railway, the Cairo-Bagdad, has since 
been built and the port of Haifa transformed into a first-class 
military harbor and made the terminus of the Mosul oil pipe- 
line. The growth in the importance of aerial communication 
was met in the Mediterranean area of the British Empire's 
"life-line," by adding to the existing naval bases a worthy 
and well-devised counterpart the Cairo-Palestine-Basra-Bou- 
chir-Karachi air-line, which is linked up with the Euro- Africa 
British air-line. The possible menace to the British position 
in the Mediterranean as a result of the conquest of Ethiopia 
by Italy, in spite of the British diplomatic offensive, has been 
rapidly met, in part at least, by the strengthening of the round- 
Africa line of communication and by a new agreement with 
Egypt. 

The following analysis of England's post-war foreign policies 
written by a well-informed Englishman may be cited as de- 
pendable testimony: 

"It is merely to restate a truism to point out that British 
foreign policy for at least ten years has been essentially 
directed toward the maintenance of peace. Certain mat- 
ters may from time to time have seemed to consort oddly 
with such an aim, but this is a matter of interpretation. 
Great Britain stands to gain a great deal from the exist- 



146 THE ENGLISH MIND 

ence of settled trading conditions and to lose a great deal 
whenever war breaks out anywhere. There is the further 
condition, sensed if not explicitly thought out, that the 
present organization of society could scarcely stand the 
strain of another major conflict. One more such victory 
as that of 1918 might be fatal. 

"Subject to this limitation, British diplomacy has pur- 
sued two main objectives. One is quite definitely the 
maintenance of good relations with the United States. 
The other is the prevention of the creation of a Continen- 
tal hegemony by any single nation; and this necessarily 
has given British policy a fundamentally anti-French and 
anti-Russian trend. Now and again there crop up inci- 
dents which seem to indicate tendencies exactly the op- 
posite of those emphasized above, but in the long run 
these minor variations in the graph flatten out into insig- 
nificance. . . . 

"Examined in the light of the aims just suggested, 
British post-war diplomacy is seen to have pursued a per- 
fectly consistent cause. For two or three years following 
1918 it was difficult to determine how the nations were 
going to align themselves, and Whitehall marked time. 
By the end of 1921 what the British took to be the out- 
lines of the post-war structure began to appear, and British 
policy to be shaped accordingly. . . . 

"In the foreign, as in the domestic, field, the party labels 
affixed to the Cabinets have meant comparatively little. 
The French found Lord Curzoh and Mr. Snowden equally 
annoying. Mr. MacDonald had to remonstrate with Mos- 
cow just as' sharply as did his conservative predecessors. 
. . . Among the rank and file of the British nation there 
are, of course, chauvinists and pacifists, isolationists and 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 147 

co-operators, pro-Leaguers and anti-Leaguers, pro-Ameri- 
can and anti-American. . . ." * 



THE PRICE OF ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM 

Side by side with the positive and neutral aspects of anti- 
intellectualism, 2 there are certain distinctly negative aspects 
which must be noted. Its anti-intellectualism is at one and 
the same time a vital part of the armor of the English nation, 
a curious excrescence on that armor, and a corrosive, which is 
capable of biting deep into its traditional defenses. 

It appears that it is precisely in English anti-intellectualism 
that the source of certain far-reaching weaknesses of the Eng- 
lish national character is to be found, more important weak- 
nesses than those concomitant to any other English national 
trait already studied in this volume. Therefore, in addition 

1 From England Muddles Through, by H. E. Scarborough, New York, 
1932, pp. 242 ff. By permission of The Macmillan Company, publishers. 

2 Cf. the following description of English anti-intellectualism found in 
Matthew Arnold's Essays in Criticism, "Heinrich Heine," New York, A. L. 
Burt Co., s.d. ist and 2nd series, p. 121: 

"In truth, the English, profoundly as they have modified the old Middle- 
Age order, great as is the liberty which they have secured for themselves, 
have in all their changes proceeded, to use a familiar expression, by the rule 
of thumb; what was intolerably inconvenient to them they have suppressed, 
and as they have suppressed it, not because it was irrational, but because it 
was practically inconvenient, they have seldom in suppressing it appealed^to 
reason, but always, if possible, to some precedent, or form, or letter, which 
served as a convenient instrument for their purpose, and which saved them 
from the necessity of recurring to general principles. They have thus be- 
come, in a certain sense, of all people the most inaccessible to ideas and the 
most impatient of them; inaccessible to them, because of their want of fa- 
miliarity with them; and impatient of them because they have got on so well 
without them, that they despise those who, nor having got on as well as 
themselves, still make a fuss for what they themselves have done so well 
without But there has certainly followed from hence, in this country, some- 
what of a general depression of pure intelligence: Philistia has come to be 
thought by us the pure Land of Promise, and it is anything but that; the 
born lover of ideas, the born hater of commonplaces, must feel in this coun- 
try, that the sky over his head is of brass and iron." 



148 THE ENGLISH MIND 

to the positive and the neutral implications of English anti- 
intellectualism, we shall now study the negative implications, 
always bearing in mind that our primary interest is in inter- 
national political repercussions of national strength or weak- 
ness. 

It is scarcely a wholesome phenomenon that popular dislike 
readily falls, as it does in England, upon any public man who 
is tarred by the syndicated newspapers as "brainy," or as 
"high-brow." In relatively quiet times, it may be good British 
conservatism to insist that cabinets be formed of undynamic, 
"safe rather than brilliant" men men who are "tranquillity" 
and "extraordinary normality" personified. But in times of 
ceaseless complex world conflicts, open or covert, it is vital 
that Parliament and the Cabinet should have in service an ade- 
quate number of keen, quick-thinking, widely informed men 
men who are prepared to take responsibilities, inclusive of 
reasonable risks. During the last quarter of a century, char- 
acterized by unprecedented political and economic complexity, 
England has persisted in placing at the wheel of the State the 
"tranquil" men, who pride themselves on not being "clever," 
and in avoiding uncomfortably brilliant individuals among 
her public men. Viscount Cecil's idea that it is better to have 
for leaders "safe" second-class brains than second-class char- 
acters is unsafe in these days of complex struggle and conflict, 
domestic and international. Nations run serious risks when 
they do not find and foster leaders combining first-rate brain 
and first-class character, nor bring men and women possessing 
this happy combination to leadership and power. 

British leadership in the world has not been in the recent 
decades, for better or worse, commensurate with the potential 
power of the Empire. In their impious skepticism with re- 
gard to theory and the theorists, the English seem to have 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 149 

overlooked the fact that side by side with useless prattling, 
futile daydreaming, and destructive, irresponsible criticism of 
everybody and everything, theory can have another, more 
wholesome meaning; theory, in the sense of mental experi- 
mentation on the basis of a crystallized experience. The Eng- 
lish have a saying that trouble is in store for the world when 
a fellow with a theory is born^ on the other hand^national 
leadership impervious to tihieorjJto take the term in its posi- 
tive sense, (can readily become a greater evil^ 

Not only intellectualism, but also anti-intellectualism can be 
false and harmful. In the turmoil of the recent decades, when 
sound and truly enlightened statesmanship was so badly 
needed, her false anti-intellectualism appears to have caused 
England an incalculable injury. The destructive force of this 
anti-intellectualism has operated in two directions: (A) inabil- 
ity to establish a non-political and non-commercial basis of 
understanding and attraction between England and the domi- 
nant worth-while native element of her vast estates; (B) in- 
ability or disinclination to crystallize and popularize the com- 
plex political, economic, and military experience to which 
the Empire is heir, aggravated by incapacity for mental ex- 
perimentation in the challenging field of international politics. 
Bearing in mind that England holds no monopoly in such 
shortcomings, we shall now briefly illustrate these two nega- 
tive aspects of her anti-intellectual bias with a few examples 
drawn from recent history. 

As in the case of business relations between individuals, the 
relations between collective individuals, or nations, are more 
satisfactory when there is a certain sharing of tastes, apprecia- 
tions, and various other common human interests. Such com- 
munity of human interests may be either intellectual or emo- 
tional, or both. The French, though on the whole less efficient 



I5O THE ENGLISH MIND 

colonial administrators than the English, are indubitably 
strengthening their hold on their principal colonies, on which 
they center their effort. This success is very largely due to 
the intellectual charm that French culture exercises on the 
elite of the natives, who, once they have really assimilated 
French civilization, are spiritually adopted, so to speak, by 
the French as good Frenchmen, regardless of color or creed. 
Moreover, in foreign countries standing entirely outside their 
sphere of political and economic influence, the French have 
many friends among the modern humanists. The English, 
intellectually incurious and emotionally reserved, do not have 
the talent possessed by the French for befriending peoples of 
other nations and races. Even in the British Isles themselves, 
they have failed to achieve anything like the amalgamation 
that has fused one solid French nation out of Gauls, Franks, 
Burgundians, and diverse immigrants from all countries. 

A visitor to India made this observation with relation to 
English administration of India: 

"The English are, in themselves, a proof against Darwin- 
ism: they do not adapt themselves, and they survive just 
the same. The official newspaper, published in English, 
devotes twenty pages to horse races, and half a page to 
social -policies. The official brain apportions its interests 
similarly." x 

It is for history to disclose whether England, despite the lack 
of proper intellectual adaptation to the conditions created by 
the complexities of modern times, will continue to maintain 
her imperial position. What a contemporary student of Eng- 
land can see is that she did lose in international prestige dur- 

1 Katz, R., Une Annee en Extreme Orient, Paris, Editions Montaigne, pp. 
41-42. 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 15! 

ing the supreme trial of the World War, and, logically enough, 
has continued to lose ground during the aftermath. The 
potentially invincible British Empire proved to be but one of 
the empires which the Germans, poorly supported by inef- 
fectual allies, almost defeated; and in the aftermath of the 
World War, England more often than not failed to play a 
leading part on the stage of world politics. Recent history 
seems, indeed, to uphold with relation to both cause and effect 
Oswald Sydenham's condemnation of that conception of 
British imperialism which he defines as "this dream of defying 
the world without an army, and dominating it without educa- 



tion." 1 



The Englishman's utilitarian bias and his lack of intellectual 
curiosity produce, . among other consequences, that strange 
combination of superiority and inferiority complexes which 
arise in his dealings with persons of a foreign nationality. 

The average Englishman is distrustful of foreigners because 
he does not know their language or their civilization; he is 
contemptuous of foreigners, in part at least, because he ration- 
alizes his own unpardonable ignorance of foreign lands. His 
ignorance of foreign countries, though it prevents John Bull 
from granting them full human worth, does not prevent him 
from judging them roundly. 

A French student of England once remarked that he was 
amazed by what the Englishman did not know. To be sure, 
the Englishman knows a great many things which his com- 
mon sense suggests to him and in which his foreign critics 
may be weak. Yet his lack of curiosity with regard to matters 
whose utility he does not see is indeed appalling, in small 
things or great. For instance, a British naval officer, an ex- 

1 Wells, H. G., Joan and Peter, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1918, 
p. 279. 



152 THE ENGLISH MIND 

cellent seaman and brilliant commander in the World War, 
writes of the naming of his "mystery ship," an armed decoy 
for German submarines camouflaged as a tramp freighter 
one of the so-called "Q" ships as follows: 

"By a curious coincidence we had trouble again about 
the secrecy of our name. The 'Q' title had by this time 
been dropped, and we just had a name. On the ship being 
taken up, her name had been changed from the Victoria 
to the Snail. This latter name became compromised while 
we were fitting out, and we eventually sailed under the 
name of the Pargust. Who thought of the name or what 
it means I have never discovered." * 

Incurious of their own belongings, save the gray-with-age 
relics of English history, unless and until they see their prac- 
tical value, the English, naturally, are still more so with regard 
to foreign matters; they do not know how to cultivate the 
seed of common disinterested human interests interests which 
mitigate, if not neutralize, the disruptive influence of inter- 
national conflicts, of open or "unofficial" wars. A French 
ambassador relates in his memoirs how an English colleague, 
having received appointment to Rome, came to him to ask 
for information about Italy: 

"I thought that he wanted to know about Italian politics, 
parties, and individual leaders, in the past and at present. 
He confessed, however, that what he wanted to know 
above all was about the city itself. 'Don't you know it 
already?' I asked in astonishment. 'Hardly,' he answered. 
'How is this possible, when you have been in the Orient 

1 From My Mystery Ships, by Vice Admiral Gordon Campbell, p. 216, copy- 
right 1928, 1929, reprinted with permission by Doubleday, Doran and Co., 
Inc., New York. 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 153 

for a long time and must have passed through Rome so 
often ?' That's right. But I was already so tired by travel 
each time I passed through Rome that I would go directly 
from the station to an hotel, and would not leave it until 
the time for taking my train to continue the journey/ " * 

In 1497 Andrea Trevisano, Venetian ambassador to Eng- 
land, wrote of John Bull's insularity: 

"The English are great lovers of themselves and of every- 
thing belonging to them. . . . They think there are no 
other men like themselves and no other world but Eng- 
land " 

The four and a half centuries that separate us from 
Trevisano's England have made little change with regard to 
the average Englishman's voluntary, not to say willful, igno- 
rance of other countries, their language, history, vital interests, 
and true national characteristics. In 1934 Sir Percival Phillips, 
correspondent of the Daily Mail, thought it advisable to write 
out a number of "Don'ts" for the enlightenment of his fellow 
Englishmen intending .to travel on the Continent: 

"Don't cross the Channel with a superiority complex. 
Civilization does not end at Calais, and our Continental 
neighbors resent the inference that they should be classed 
with the inhabitants of the African hinterland. Take 
things as they come and do not grouse. 

"Don't call attention constantly to the fact that you are 
being robbed because prices in a gold standard country 
are higher than at home. Such comparisons merely adver- 
tise your ignorance without having the slightest influence 
on the franc or the guilder, 

1 Benoist, C., "Guillaume II en Hollande," Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 
Janvier 1934, pp. 393-394- 



154 <rHE ENGLISH MIND 

"Don't comment loudly on the manners and appearance 
of the people around you. English is not an entirely un- 
known tongue even in Central Europe. . . . 

"Don't imagine that your slight knowledge of a foreign 
language is improved by raising your voice. You only 
increase the bewilderment of the natives." 1 

How does this superiority complex develop? That very 
intimate mental process is not easy to grasp. Mr. Priestley 
relates how his little daughter said to her parents one day 
during a visit to France, "But French people aren't true, are 
they?" "I knew exactly how she felt," comments Mr. Priest- 
ley.* 

While in other lands a good percentage of the adolescents 
of superior gifts or simply of sufficient means assiduously study 
foreign languages as the only sure key to familiarity with 
foreign civilizations, English adolescents of corresponding 
gifts or means give very little attention to "the idioms used 
by foreigners." As a result, in the course of the World War 
the Germans had various advantages over their English foes, 
not the least of which was their command of language. This 
they successfully applied in espionage and propaganda. The 
English were seriously handicapped by their meager linguistic 
resources, not only as individuals but also as a nation. 

For example, a German spy organization operated from 
Denmark a rather important surveillance of the movements 
of English naval and merchant marine units. When the Eng- 
lish Intelligence Service sought to combat the German Intel- 
ligence Service in Denmark, profiting by the visit of a large 
British squadron to Skagen, it was found that "of the 18,000 

x New York Times, November n, 1934. 

2 Priestley, J. B., English Journey, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1934, p. 
416. 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 155 

officers and sailors who manned the squadron not one spoke 
Danish." 1 When the London Office of the Intelligence 
Service was on a lookout for eligible Englishmen who could 
speak Flemish, it was discovered that such individuals were 
"as scarce as hen's teeth." 2 Similar was the discovery made 
by the head of the English Intelligence Service in Holland, 
who badly needed an officer who spoke French, German, and 
Dutch. 3 

This sad situation was not an accident but the result of a 
long tradition. In a public lecture, Coleridge gave thanks to 
God "that he had been protected from the ability to speak a 
single sentence in the French language." 4 Taine relates an 
interesting story illustrating the horror of foreign tongues that 
a typical true-born Englishman carries in his heart: 

"Lord A., having engaged a French tutor, advised him 
not to speak anything but French to his children. 1 am 
charmed, my lord, to find that you lay such store on our 
tongue.' 'Sir, we despise it, but we wish that in France 
our children should know how to speak as well as the 



natives/" 6 



Bishop Creighton once remarked: "An Oxford man walks 
as if all the world belonged to him. A Cambridge man walks 
as if he did not care a damn to whom the world belonged." 
The average product of either still has poor linguistic equip- 
ment and limited knowledge of the world at large, because 

1 Steinhauser, G., Le Detective du Kaiser, Paris, Editions Montaigne, 1933, 
pp. 97-98. 

2 Rowan, R. W., Modern Spies Tell Their Stories, New York, Robert Mc- 
Bride and Co., 1934, P- 288. m 

3 Landau, H., All Is Fair: The Story of the British Secret Service Behind 
the German Lines, New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1934, pp. 4*-42- 

4 Quoted in Dixon, W. M., The Englishman, New York, Longmans, Green 

5 Taine, H., Notes on England, New York, Henry Holt and Co., 1876. 



156 THE ENGLISH MIND 

of the national lack of Disinterested curiosityjn general, and 
in relation to foreign lands in particular. More traveled than 
their social equals on the Continent, Englishmen of education 
bring home not nearly as much of dependable first-hand in- 
formation about foreign lands as might well be expected. 
^A far-reaching repercussion of the lack of curiosity re- 
sponsible for their poor linguistic equipment as a nation is 
found in a rather costly error which the English, who are 
remarkable for their rapid and correct judgment of character, 
committed during the World War in overrating the wortt^of 
General Nivelle, the ephemeral successor oFMarshal Joffre. 
This error of judgment was, it seems, very largely due to the 
fact that General Nivelle was one of the very few prominent 
French generals who could speak English well. The British 
Cabinet supported the young general's hazardous plan for an 
Anglo-French attack at the Rheims-Soissons section of the 
Western Front in April, 1917, against the opposition not only 
of the older and more distinguished French generals but also 
of the British General Headquarters. To borrow from Mr. 
Winston Churchill: 

"As the train bringing the Prime Minister home from 
Italy waited at the Gare du Nord, General Nivelle pre- 
sented himself and unfolded his scheme in outline. The 
first impressions on both sides were favorable. Nivelle was 
invited to London and met the War Cabinet on January 
15 (1917). His success was immediate. The British 
Ministers had never before met a French General whom 
they could understand. Nivelle not only spoke lucidly, 
but he spoke English. He had not only captured Fort 
Douaumont, but had an English mother. . . . Mr. Lloyd 
George's resistance to the new offensive plan had been 



THE ANTMNTELLECTUALIST 157 

melting rapidly since the meeting at the Gare du Nord. 
It was soon to be transformed in ardent support." 1 

Because he confuses thinking^ which is far from interfering 
with action because it decides action, and hesitation in thought, 
which does interfere with action, the Englishman has strong 
reluctance to mental experimentation as well as to crystalliza- 
tionof^experiencc into theories. This tendency is, not unlike 
3ie""other forms of English anti-intellectualism, sometimes 
exaggerated by critics. Hilaire Belloc exploits the typical 
British "complex" in question in the satirical anecdote about 
a witty Englishman who said that each time when he returned 
from a conference abroad he could read "written up in flaming 
letters upon the cliffs of Dover, for all returning men to read: 
Tjurn shalt not think. Thought is the foe of action. There- 
fore hy thinking inpn anrl riflHnnp perish.'" 2 " 

H. G. Wells stigmatizes present-day English anti-intellec- 
tualism in no uncertain terms: 

"Most Englishmen, even those who belong to what we 
call the educated classes, still do not think systematically 
at all; you cannot understand England until you master 
that fact: their ideas are in slovenly detached little heaps, 
they think in ready-made phrases, they are honestly ca- 
pable therefore of the most grotesque inconsistencies." 3 

The truth of the matter, however, is that in an emergency 
England has always found, and is likely to find in the future, 

1 Churchill, W., The Aftermath, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1931, 
p. 714. 

Note: Mr. Lloyd George disclaims, not quite convincingly, all responsibility 
for the disastrous Nivelle offensive. See Lloyd George, D., War Memoirs, 
Boston, Little, Brown & Co., 1934, Vol. Ill, Ch. XIII. 

2 Belloc, H., A Conversation with a Cat, New York, Harper & Brothers, 

zpS 1 * PP- r 35> Z 39- 
8 Joan and Peter, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1918, p. 283. 



15 THE ENGLISH MIND 

powerful and enlightened men to lead her out of the wilder- 
ness of anti-intellectualism-^but the price exacted by the anti- 
intellectual leadership responsible for the crisis may one day 
prove disastrously heavy. Mr. Winston Churchill, a well- 
qualified judge of intellectual powers, was justified in making 
his proud statement relative to the high degree of talent, 
strengthened by variety, which the British delegation to the 
Peace Conference of Paris exhibited. 

On the other hand, it is true that(inadequate preparation for 
war and the muddled conduct of operations^ especially witfa^ 
regard to naval affairs, had created a world situation in which 
this capable delegation found itself seriously handicapped. 
Before the World War, England's anti-theoretical governing 
class had adhered, despite all the clear presages of an approach- 
ing conflict with Germany, to the policy of "wait andsee." 
The governing group, disdaining the good advice of its bril- 
liant, and hence mistrusted, members such as Mr. Winston 
Churchill, remained noncommittal to their suggestions re- 
garding a thorough co-ordination of British measures of pre- 
paredness with those of France and Russia, England's poten- 
tial allies. Because England had waited, she saw herself on 
the brink of an abyss more than once in the course of the 
World War. As a result of playing the obsolete game, "time 
gained, everything gained," the English found themselves 
unable to contribute to the Allied cause on land, and more 
particularly on sea, in a degree truly commensurate with the 
potential might of the Empire. 

Many striking examples of that almost fatal muddling^.pfior 
to and during the World War are to be found in documentary 
materials already available for students of history. Lack of 
space limits the brief review to the more surprising instances 
drawn from the records of naval affairs. On the east coast 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 159 

of the British Isles, that is, on the North Sea side, where opera- 
tions against the significantly increased German Navy would 
logically center, no harbor was prepared to receive the Grand 
Fleet. As a result, the fleet had to seek shelter in the road- 
stead of Scapa Flow, where the tide, changing in direction 
and strength four times during twenty-four hours, offered a 
measure of protection against German mines and submarines. 
In the words of Mr. Winston Churchill: 

"Everything depended upon the Fleet, and during these 
months of October and November [1914], the Fleet was 
disquieted about the very foundations of its being. . . . 
The Grand Fleet was uneasy. She could not find a rest- 
ing place except at sea. Conceive it, the ne plus ultra, 
the one ultimate sanction of our existence, the supreme 
engine which no one had dared to brave, whose authority 
encircled the globe no longer sure of itself. The idea 
has got round 'the German submarines were coming after 
them into the harbours! On the South Coast no one 
would have minded. You could go inside the Portland 
breakwater and literally shut the door. On the East Coast 
no such possibility existed. But Scapa was believed to be 
protected by its currents from submarine attack. . . . 
Now, all of a sudden, the Grand Fleet began to see sub- 
marines in Scapa Flow. Two or three times the alarm 
was raised. The climax came on October 17. Guns were 
fired, destroyers thrashed the waters, and the whole gigan- 
tic Armada put to sea in haste and dudgeon. . . . There 
was nothing to be done but to await the completion of the 
booms and obstructions, and meanwhile to keep the Fleet 
as far as possible out of harm's way. It really only felt 
safe when it was at sea. Then, steaming in the broad 



l6o THE ENGLISH MIND 

waters, the Grand Fleet was herself again! but this in- 
volved a great strain on officers, men and machinery and 
a large consumption of fuel. 

"On September 30 [1914], Sir John Jellicoe wrote to me 
on the general Fleet position. He pointed out that Ger- 
many had got a lead over us in oversea submarines. An- 
other very serious warning reached me almost simulta- 
neously from Sir David Beatty. 'The feeling/ he wrote, 'is 
gradually possessing the Fleet that all is not right some- 
where. The menace of mines and submarines is proving 
larger every day, and adequate means to meet or combat 
them are not forthcoming, and we are gradually being 
pushed out of the North Sea, and off our own particular 
perch. How does this arise? By the very apparent fact 
that we have no Base where we can with any degree of 
safety lie for coaling, replenishing, and refitting and re- 
pairing, after two and a half months of war.' " x 

To this may be added: 

"Storage was not provided for a drop of oil for the Navy 
along the east coast from one end of Great Britain to an- 
other." 2 

The "pub" customers had merrily toasted their enemies on 
the eve of the World War as they had done many times before: 

"They may build their ships 

And think they know the game, 
But they can't breed boys of the bulldog breed 
That have made old England's name!" 

1 Churchill, Winston S., The World Crisis, New York, Charles Scribner's 
Sons, 1932, pp. 217 ff. 

2 Bellairs, C., The Battle of Jutland: the Sowing and the Reaping, London, 
Hodder and Stoughton, 1919, p. 252. 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST l6l 

The Germans had not only built some good ships but also 
bred excellent seamen, and, as a result, came to the battle of 
Jutland (Skagerrak) the only great naval battle in the World 
War inferior to the English numerically, to be sure, but not 
in the training and ability of the officers and men, and espe- 
cially of the Commander-in-Chief himself. This German, 
Admiral Scheer, summarizing the results of the battle, said: 

"As is well known, the outcome of the battle was in 
our favor. We came to the battle with twenty-seven bat- 
tleships, the English with forty-five. The English casual- 
ties were: 328 officers and 5769 men dead; 25 officers and 
485 men wounded; 10 officers and 167 men taken pris- 
oners. Our casualties were: 160 officers and 2385 men 
dead; 40 officers and 454 men wounded; taken prisoners 
none. The English losses in vessels were: 2 battleships 
put out of commission; 3 battle cruisers, 3 smaller cruisers, 
8 destroyers sunk, the latter 14 vessels with their total 
crews. Our losses were: i old battleship sunk with the 
entire crew; i battle cruiser put out of commission and 
sunk by ourselves upon the removal of the crew to a tor- 
pedo-boat; 4 smaller cruisers, two with the entire crews, 
sunk; 4 torpedo-boats sunk with the total crews. 

"When the English losses became known, the English 
public was stunned by the defeat of the Navy." * 

A British student of the battle of Jutland speaks of this 
failure by the Mistress of the Seas in much stronger terms: 

"Surely in an affair of such magnitude there ought to be 
an inquiry under oath. The public is being fooled with 
statements about hundreds of torpedoes being fired at the 

1 Admiral Scheer, von, Vom Segelschifi zutn U-Boot, Leipzig, Quelle & 
Meyer, 1925, S. 300 f. 



l62 THE ENGLISH MIND 

Grand Fleet by the destroyer attack which made Lord 
Jellicoe twice turn his fleet four to eight points from the 
enemy, and so go out of the fight. Actually it is known 
that only eleven torpedo tracks were seen on the first 
occasion and about two on the second. . . . The attempt 
to find a make-weight in the torpedo armaments is simply 
countered by the fact that there were 151 ships in the 
Grand Fleet to 115 under von Scheer, and each of these 
ships can be regarded as a torpedo platform. We had 78 
destroyers better armed than the 77 destroyers under von 
Scheer, and 36 cruisers to his n, which were decidedly 
inferior in armament. With the exception of the protec- 
tive armour in his battle-cruisers, no admiral ever had less 
cause to complain of the force at his disposal, and it was 
these same battle-cruisers, together with the night work 
of the destroyers, which will enable the future historian 
to say that, had the battleships and cruisers been used with 
as great enterprise, Jutland might indeed have been the 
most decisive naval battle in history. Otherwise the record 
would stand like this: 'Jutland was a battle which did not 
resemble former victories, for at St. Vincent we pitted 15 
battleships against 27 of the enemy, and at Trafalgar 27 
against 37 battleships. At Jutland when 27 Dreadnoughts 
stood in line against 16, in spite of a preponderance in 
cruisers and destroyers, they allowed n destroyers to drive 
away the whole 27 Dreadnoughts out of action so that they 
never fought again.' The future historian will examine 
this extraordinary occurrence from the German point of 
view in the light of utterances such as that of the gunnery 
lieutenant of the Deitischland that 'torpedo attack in the 
daytime was almost hopeless, because the English de- 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST l6 

stroyers averaged faster than ours, and I do not need to 
tell you that their guns were much heavier. 5 " * 

Now, what was the primary cause of this singular failure oi 
the British Navy in the battle of Jutland? The competence 
and bravery of the officers and men are not to be doubted: 
yet victory was not brought to old England by her naval 
forces, so clearly superior numerically and also technically to 
the German force. The basic disadvantage of the English, 
which put to naught their material superiority, consisted in 
the fact that (the Commander-in-Chief and his staff lacked 
proper training in the theory of naval warfare. ^Skepticism 
of theory and a confused concept of the very term theory, 
which are so characteristic of the English, cost the nation much 
of its international prestige and cost the world the protracted 
slaughter of the War and the barely less horrible misery of a 
delayed recovery.^) 

A modern naval battle is a more complex affair than St. 
Vincent and Trafalgar were. Unless a nation has at its service 
a sufficient number of staff officers trained for conducting naval 
battles through mental experimentation and co-ordinated 
maneuvers, it will go hard with that nation when pitted against 
an enemy effectively schooled for the complexities of modern 
warfare. In a modern naval battle orders must be given by 
the Commander-in-Chief too rapidly to be fully formulated 
and explained by coded radio messages to the commanders of 
various units; often they cannot be given or received at all. 
Upless there is a "doctrine,"^a theory which permeates the 
minds of the commanders of the squadrons and individual 
vessels, and enables these officers to anticipate correctly the 

1 Bellairs, C. The Battle of Jutland, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1919, 
pp. 266 f. 



164 THE ENGLISH MIND 

intentions and dispositions of the Commander-in-Chief/many 
costly blunders may be expected in the confusion which in- 
evitably characterizes a modern naval encounter?) Commander 
Bellairs wrote on the conduct of the battle of Jutland: 

"Lord Jellicoe's mental outlook was opposed to the staff 
idea with its consequent organization and decentralization 
of work. He did nothing to encourage its development 
before the War. During his command of the Grand Fleet 
he made no serious attempt to separate operations from 
administration. His own time was largely devoted to all 
kinds of minor administrative matters to the correspond- 
ing neglect of large questions of policy and tactics. . . . 
When ships like the Queen Elizabeth were building, the 
necessity for War Staffs was not foreseen by the material 
school. So just as we found that our ships were designed 
not wholly to suit fighting requirements but to fit existing 
docks, so now we have to relate that this brain of the 
fleet had to be composed as best we could to fit into ships 
which were not designed to carry a War Staff! 

". . . Until a real War Staff has been at work for some 
time, and a mass of officers passed through it and into the 
various fleets, the importance of decentralization in com- 
mand will not be generally recognized; for then and then 
only, will the personnel of the Navy be possessed of a 
common doctrine of war which enables the subordinate 
to anticipate the wishes of his chief. Failing that, all look 
to the flagship. The spirit is to conform in all to the 
movements of the Commander-in-Chief, and to await his 
orders. Such a system is impossible in a battle area which 
spreads itself over several hundred square miles, and where 
movements are at a speed of from 20 knots upwards on 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 165 

the sea, and from 100 knots upwards in the air, and where, 
in a sea so misty as the North Sea, the larger portion of 
his own fleet, as well as the enemy, may be out of sight of 
the flagship. The truth is that the Navy has always been 
in constant danger of mistaking mere seamanship and 
technical knowledge as complete equipment for war. . . . 
Had the clever young gunnery officer, Lieutenant Jellicoe, 
escaped that system, and had his mind been wisely di- 
rected to the study of how to wage war, then with mind 
broadened, with heart enthused, and steeped in the will 
to conquer, he, too, when the day of trial came might have 
won a victory which would have profoundly modified the 
history of the world." x 

It was not that the British governing group did not possess 
in its midst individuals who were conscious of the importance 
of sound theoretical training for superior naval officers. Mr. 
Winston Churchill, perhaps the most capable statesman of the 
period, insisted in 1912 that a Naval War Staff be formed: 

"It is known that when Mr. Churchill proposed the 
foundation of a Naval War Staff in 1912 and the special 
training of officers to fit them to command in war, Lord 
Jellicoe had no sympathy with the idea, and when he went 
to the Admiralty as Second Sea Lord he did much to kill 
the possibility of such a War Staff ever being a reality. 
He could not conceive that training for war, based on his- 
tory, was required. In his opinion, the men to command 
were those who had received their entire training in the 
specialist schools (such as gunnery, torpedoes, mine lay- 
ing, etc.); and had spent their time at sea on specialist 

1 Bellairs, C., The Battle of Jutland, London, Hoddcr and Stoughton, 1919, 
pp. 249 ., 253 ff. 



l66 THE ENGLISH MIND 

problems. His own ideas of a staff were bounded en- 
tirely by material considerations; and on his staff in the 
Iron Du\e predominance was given to material." 1 

Mr. Churchill was not listened to; he must have been too 
brilliant for his professionally muddling colleagues, as he was 
suspended at a time when his activity and his personality were 
energizing the navy and giving vitality and efficiency to the 
work of the Admiralty. His administration of the Admiralty 
in the initial period of the World War, and his strategic coun- 
sels in general, imprudently or willfully neglected by the 
Government, are a bright page in the dark picture of the inept 
conduct of the war by the British in particular. His removal 
in May, 1915, from the post of the First Lord of the Admiralty 
was one of the greatest defeats that the Allies suffered in the 
World War, a defeat not a little responsible for the prolonga- 
tion of the war and for its dubious outcome. 

Again it may be noted that, during the Italo-Ethiopian war, 
which was at bottom an Anglo-Italian conflict, though blood- 
less on the English side, Mr. Churchill was pointedly over- 
looked in England at any rate; he was not included in the 
Baldwin Cabinet of November, 1935. Brilliant and far-sighted 
to the degree of making his anti-intellectual colleagues un- 
comfortable, he was left out, for the second time, at a moment 
when he might have proved most useful to his country. This 
was a victory not only for the Italians, but also for the Ger- 
mans. The New York Times correspondent from Berlin 
correctly appraised the situation when he cabled on November 
16, 1935, as follows: 

"The Conservative victory in the British election was in- 
terpreted in German political quarters and the press as a 

1 Bellairs, C., The Battle of Jutland, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1919, 
pp. 274 f. 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 167 

personal triumph for Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and 
approval by the British people of a strong foreign policy 
in keeping with the importance of the British Empire. As 
such, the victory is greeted in Germany with respectful 
admiration mixed with only one anxiety, the name of 
which is Winston Churchill. . . . 

". . . Mr. Churchill's role in 1914 as the First Lord of 
the Admiralty is not forgotten in Germany and his re- 
newed presence in the British Government at a time when 
events in Europe demand new decisions would not con- 
tribute to the German peace of mind." 

Throughout the course of the World War anti-intellectual- 
ism dictated Admiralty policies; and the sovereign opportunity 
lost at Jutland was never to be recovered: 

"The High Seas Fleet [the German Hochseeflotte] re- 
mained the great controlling factor behind a two years' 
submarine campaign which nearly lost to us the war. Its 
existence completely deterred us from action in the Baltic, 
and was therefore a great factor in the downfall of Russia. 
For two and a half years after Jutland it forced us to main- 
tain the Grand Fleet under continuous steam with all the 
immense diversion of personnel and material urgently 
needed for anti-submarine campaign. It kept up the 
menace of a German invasion, which, rightly or wrongly, 
so impressed our Government that a great Army was 
maintained in this country until Cough's army was de- 
feated through the lack of these men, who were then 



sent." 1 



1 Bellairs, C., The Battle of Jutland, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1919, 
pp. 255 f. 



l68 THE ENGLISH MIND 

The most striking manifestation of the "impious skepticism 
of theory" shown by the High Command of the British Navy 
in connection with the battle of Jutland was perhaps the one 
related by the Russian Naval Attache to the Grand Fleet, who 
witnessed the battle from the Hercules: 

"On the 3rd June I talked with some of the officers of 
our own, and other ships, about the battle. Their views 
about the battle itself and its various stages differed strik- 
ingly; not only in details, but even as to the general course 
of the action and its geographical position. All, however, 
were clearly convinced that it could not be regarded as a 
victory for us. The Commanding officers were not even 
called together for a close discussion. Such an exchange 
of observations and experiences would surely have been 
of great value, especially with respect to the lessons the 
battle had taught. It was, indeed, possible that circum- 
stances would force us to put to sea again a few days later, 
in which case the same mistakes might be repeated and 
cause fresh losses." x 

Another important study, recently published, of British 
naval operations 1914-1918, Scafa Flow to the Dover Straits, 
by an Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Roger Keyes, corroborates the 
analysis of the situation made by the writers quoted above. 
With relation to the battle of Jutland in particular Admiral 
Keyes relates, "how miserably unhappy and disgusted" the 
participants in the battle of Jutland were on the morning 
after the fight. He ruefully reflects on the various oppor- 
tunities lost by the British Naval Command after the departure 
of Winston Churchill in May, 1915. The three principal op- 

1 Schoultz, G., With the British Battle Fleet: War Recollections of a Rus- 
sian Naval Officer, London, Hutchinson and Co., 1926, p. 154. 



THE ANTX-INTELLECTUALIST 169 

portunities were: forcing the Dardanelles in order to open the 
route for supplying the Russians with war materials, the battle 
of Jutland where the German High Seas Fleet could have 
been destroyed, and the similar chance offered by the excursion 
of the German Navy on August 19, 1917. The Admiral makes 
a strong indictment of the anti-intellectualists, the "material 
school," as he writes, "whose outlook could be summed up 
in the phrase I heard when I joined the Grand Fleet: If we 
never leave the Flow, we win the war.' " The author throws 
additional light upon the blind tenacity of this "material 
school," who opposed any imaginative plan for the conduct 
of naval operations against Germany, and upon the untold 
waste, material and moral, which resulted from such an 
impious skepticism of theory. 

The slowness and bungling in meeting the German sub- 
marine danger is another impressive monument to English 
anti-intellectualism. One can readily understand Mr. Walter 
Page's desire to write two books about the English, one prais- 
ing them and another cursing them, 1 when one reads the 
account given by Admiral Sims, U. S. Navy, of his interview 
with Admiral Lord Jellicoe, then the First Sea Lord, in the 
spring of 1917: 

"After the usual greetings, Admiral Jellicoe took a paper 
out of his drawer and handed it to me. It was a record 
of tonnage losses for the last few months. This showed 
that the total sinkings, British and neutral, had reached 
536,000 tons in February and 603,000 in March; it further 
disclosed that sinkings were taking place in April which 
indicated the destruction of nearly 900,000 tons. These 
figures indicated that the losses were three and four times 

1 Hendrick, B. J., The Life and Letters of Walter H. Page, New York, 
Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1925, Vol. Ill, Part II, p. 296. 



170 THE ENGLISH MIND 

as large as those which were then being published in the 
press. It is expressing it mildly to say that I was surprised 
by this disclosure. I was fairly astonished; for I had never 
imagined anything so terrible. I expressed my consterna- 
tion to Admiral Jellicoe. 

" 'Yes/ he said, as quietly as though he were discussing 
the weather and not the future of the British Empire. 'It 
is impossible for us to go on with the war if losses like 
this continue.' 'What are you doing about it?' I asked. 
'Everything that we can. We are increasing our anti-sub- 
marine forces in every possible way. We are using every 
possible craft we can find with which to fight submarines. 
We are rebuilding destroyers, trawlers, and like craft as 
fast as we can. But the situation is very serious and we 
shall need all of the assistance we can get.' 'It looks as 
though the Germans were winning the war,' I remarked. 
'They will win, unless we can stop these losses and stop 
them soon,' the Admiral replied," * 

In his War Memoirs, Mr. Lloyd George relates some impres- 
sive facts illustrating the false anti-intellectualism that per- 
vaded the Admiralty and interfered with the work of com- 
bating the submarine danger, even after this danger had taken 
on the proportions of a calamity, thanks to the unprepared- 
ness prior to the World War and the unimaginative handling 
of the naval situation during the first two years and a half 
of the war: 

". . . of all their delusions the most astounding was that 
which concerned the number of British vessels sailing the 
high seas and needing escort. This was not some obscure 

1 From The Victory at Sea, by Admiral W. S. Sims, pp. 8 ., copyright 1920 
by Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc., New York. 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 

and disputable issue that could be determined only by 
risky experiment. It was merely a matter of available 
statistics accurately added up. The blunder on which their 
policy was based was an arithmetical mix-up which would 
not have been perpetrated by an ordinary clerk in a ship- 
ping office. It nevertheless bewildered the Sea Lords and 
drove them out of their course for months. Common 
sense or reference to Lloyd's register and a sum in simple 
addition would have given them the facts. Up to the 
middle of 1917 there was no one on the Board of Admir- 
alty who possessed this triple qualification. Here is the 
fateful error in accountantship which nearly lost us the 
War, and might have done so, had no one pointed it out 
in time to the Sea Lords. 

"For some time past the Admiralty had by order of the 
Government been in the habit of publishing week by 
week the number of vessels lost by submarine attacks. 
And in order to make this dismal news sound as hopeful 
as possible, they had issued with it a return supplied by 
the Customs Authorities of the number of vessels that had 
entered and left British ports during the week. To swell 
this number, every entry and exit was counted, including 
the numerous goings and comings of coastwise small 
craft of the smallest dimensions, passing from harbour 
to harbour on the coast, so that it reached a figure of about 
twenty-five hundred weekly entrances and as many clear- 
ances. Probably these figures did not deceive the German 
High Command, though they doubtless served to encour- 
age Neutrals and depress the enemy populations. Unhap- 
pily, they also deceived our own Admirals!" x 

1 Lloyd George, D., War Memoirs, Vol. Ill, p. 93. Reprinted by permission 
of Little, Brown and Company. 



172 THE ENGLISH MIND 

The English pride themselves, and are justified in so doing, 
upon their resourcefulness in practical affairs. Robinson 
Crusoe is extolled as the type that best represents the national 
character. When cast upon the island, "instead of shrieking 
or writing poetry, he calmly sets about building a house, and 
making pottery and laying out a farm." 1 This Crusonian 
self-reliance is, no doubt, characteristic of the English. On 
the other hand, their lack of practice or ability in co-ordinat- 
ing national measures and policies through mental experimen- 
tation has frequently brought them to a painful impasse. The 
conduct of the World War, with all its diplomatic, com- 
mercial, and moral, as well as purely technical or military 
problems, furnished abundant and unforgettable illustrations 
of very imperfect co-ordination and theoretical unpreparedness 
on the part of England's public men, taken as a group. Lord 
Riddell in his diary tells about a meeting with the Australian 
Prime Minister, Mr. Hughes, for breakfast at the home of 
Lloyd George at 10 Downing Street. Quite naturally the 
conversation concerned the conduct of the war. When Mr. 
Hughes was asked his opinion about the manner in which 
the war was being carried on he said that England seemed to 
have a number of able men but each was acting on his own 
initiative and it was obvious that there was no definite plan. 
He thought that with the vast resources of the British Empire 
properly co-ordinated any reasonable strategic plan could be 
successful. Using Australia as an example, the Australian 
Prime Minister asserted that Australia if asked to supply men 
could have furnished rapidly and with very little assistance 
from London three hundred thousand men, armed and ready 

1 Leslie Stephen's words quoted in Dixon, W. M., op. cit., p. 33. 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 173 

to fight. No such call was made, however. He concluded 
by saying again, "You have no definite plan." * 

The British Navy, to be sure, rendered inestimable services 
to the Allied cause, but it failed to achieve a decisive and 
timely victory. It seems justifiable to attribute the poor show- 
ing made by the British Empire in the World War primarily 
to the failure of the British Navy to live up to its material 
possibilities. It seems equally justifiable to attribute this failure 
to the anti-intellectualistic skepticism of theory, which per- 
vaded the governing circles in general, and the Admiralty 
Board in particular. As a result, England came out of the 
trial of the World War with a diminished prestige, despite 
her territorial gains. The German Navy was defeated on 
land, so to speak; not only in the eyes of former enemies and 
friends, but also in the judgment of her more far-sighted 
imaginative sons, England had suffered great loss of prestige. 

Admiral Wemyss wrote with relation to the armistice nego- 
tiations: 

"Sunday, November 10 [1918] . . . When it came to 
discussing the Naval terms, Vanselow, a member of the 
German delegation, showed a captiousness which was tire- 
some and quite unavailing. He made the remark, was it 
admissible that their fleet should be interned at Scapa 
Flow, until the disposal of it by the Peace Conference, 
seeing that they had not been beaten? the reply to this 
was obvious and it gave me a certain amount of pleasure 
to observe that they had only to come out!" * 

1 Riddell, G. A. R., War Diary 1914-1918, London, Nicholson and Watson, 
I933> PP- 161 f. 

2 Wemyss, Lady W., The Life and Letters of Lord Webster Wemyss, Ad- 
miral of the Fleet, London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1935, PP- 393 



174 THE ENGLISH MIND 

What the Admiral really felt while he was treating with the 
Germans, already defeated on land and suing for an armistice, 
is summarized by his biographer as follows: 

"What disturbed him far more at the time was the dis- 
satisfaction which he knew was being felt by the Grand 
Fleet, and more especially Admiral Beatty, for he well 
entered into their feelings. The Grand Fleet had been 
the idol, the pride of the nation. To belong to it was the 
ambition of every naval officer, not to do so almost a slur. 
True to Nelsonian traditions it seemed to them a sheer im- 
possibility that the war should be brought to a successful 
conclusion without that great and glorious victory for 
which they had, amid the gales and fogs of the North 
Sea, been awaiting over four years, only to realize that the 
war had been fought and won." i 

The former Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy made 
upon the termination of the World War the following predic- 
tion of decline of the naval prestige of England: 

"Even though the Briton thinks fit to look down upon 
us in contempt and derision, this superiority cannot be free 
from a sediment. He cannot help remembering that he 
did not defeat us in battle and that the methods of proce- 
dure which he used against us will be avenged. 

"Other powers will step forth on the world stage, and 
the sea domination will fall to the one which, as in Nel- 
son's time, will have succeeded in establishing its sway 
in open fight." 2 

* Wemyss, Lady W., The Life and Letters of Lord Webster Wemyss, Ad- 
miral of the Fleet, London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1935, p. 397. 

2 Admiral Schecr, von, Deutschlands Hochseeflotte im Weltkrieg- Person- 
liche Ennnerungen, Berlin, August Scherl, 1921, SS. 506-507. 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 175 

Of these predictions, the one concerning the demand of 
other powers for a place in the naval sun has already more than 
once proved correct. Great Britain had to abandon her tradi- 
tional claim to the right to possess a navy as powerful as the 
two strongest foreign navies put together "the two-power" 
standard. She had first to admit the claim to equality on the 
part of the United States in 1922; and next, acquiesce in the 
Japanese claim to equality, in 1936. In the Italo-Ethiopian con- 
flict, English sea power was, for all practical intents and pur- 
poses, challenged by Mussolini, and the English did not pick 
up the gauntlet. Evidently, the men responsible for the 
destinies of England did not feel that either materially or 
morally the English naval and air forces could chastise the 
young Italian sea and air power without serious risk. Sir 
Samuel Hoare declared, unequivocally, in the House of Com- 
mons on December 19, 1935, that his plan for effecting peace 
between Italy and Ethiopia, at the expense of the latter con- 
sequently for placing a premium on the unprovoked aggression 
committed by Italy against a fellow-member of the League of 
Nations had been prompted by his fear of "a European con- 
flagration" and also by the apprehension of "an isolated war 
between Britain and Italy." Remembering Bismarck's witty 
remark with regard to the employment of the term Europe 
as a diplomatic smoke screen, it is the latter part of the former 
British Foreign Secretary's statement that is of moment. A 
member of His Majesty's Opposition asked Prime Minister 
Stanley Baldwin in the House of Commons on December 17, 
"whether it was the Government's policy to use the fleet if 
necessary or run away." No reply was given to this question. 

This reluctance to "use the fleet" and the consequent diplo- 
matic defeat of England in the Italo-Ethiopian conflict must 
be attributed to causes other than the idealism of the "new 



176 THE ENGLISH MIND 

diplomacy" or the material weakness of England as com- 
pared with Italy. Perhaps this was again a case of poor or- 
ganization and unimaginative "wait and see" policy fresh 
manifestations of the false anti-intellectualism, which had in- 
terfered with the organization and application of the British 
Empire's potential naval strength at the time of the World 
War. 

The history of the World War, in particular of the naval 
operations, fails to bear out the burden of Mr. Galsworthy's 
claim that the Englishman makes constant small blunders, 
but few, almost no, great mistakes; that he is a slow starter, 
but there is no stronger finisher. As to the outcome of the 
Anglo-Italian conflict of 1935-1936, in which Mussolini tri- 
umphed, perhaps beyond his own expectations, the following 
appraisal made by an American observer, Mr. H. R. Knicker- 
bocker of the International News Service, in his London dis- 
patch of May 6, 1936, may be quoted: 

"For the first time in more than a century the British 
fleet in the Mediterranean faces the necessity of turning 
tail and steaming home with an untouched enemy jeering 
the ignominious withdrawal. . . . 

"For seven months, two-thirds of the fighting strength 
of the British Navy, more than 150 war vesels, more than 
700,000 tons of battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and air- 
craft carriers, have waited at the mouth of the Suez Canal, 
for word from London to act to stop the war in Abyssinia. 
For seven months Italian ships laden with guns and 
bombs and men to kill Abyssinians have sailed serenely 
past and laughed at the British officers standing tight- 
lipped on their gun-decks, binoculars trained on the grin- 
ning enemy. 

"Not in modern times has British patience been tried so 



THE ANTI-INTELLECTUALIST 177 

hard. Not since the Napoleonic wars has British pride 
been so hard hit. They say the British lose every battle 
except the last. But this is the first time they have threat- 
ened a fight and quit." 1 

The handling by Great Britain of the international diplo- 
matic and naval skirmish called "controversy" in connection 
with the Spanish Civil War showed only a slight, if any, im- 
provement upon her management of the situation which pre- 
ceded, accompanied, and followed the conquest of Ethiopia 
by Italy. "Advance warnings" sent by the Chamberlain Gov- 
ernment to II Duce, which were unheeded by him, were at par, 
it may be added, with the British protests, practically ignored 
by the Japanese, during the "unofficial" Sino-Japanese War. 

In closing, we will mention just one more illustration of the 
English reluctance to experiment in imagination and to work 
with ideas and theories. In strange contradiction to his emi- 
nent appreciation of the economy of force, the Englishman, 
who was the originator of the modern industrial system, has 
fallen away from the systematic rationalization of industries. 
As a result, he is seriously hampered in world markets by 
competition, not only on the part of the United States and 
several European countries, but also on the part of Japan, the 
latest to arrive in world markets. In fact, the Japanese seem to 

1 Associated Press, London, June 15, 1936. 

The criticisms passed on the conduct of British Policy in what Mr. Eden 
euphemistically called "the Italo-Abyssinian dispute" were epitomized by Mr. 
Arthur Greenwood, M.P., in the following much-quoted statement: "The 
Prime Minister and his colleagues are in the words of Shelley: 

'Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know 
But leech-like to their fainting country cling.' " 

Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, British Foreign Policy, Septem- 
ber, 1936, No. 322, p. 345. See also "The Greatest British Defeat Within 
Living Memory," in Hutton, G., Is It Peace?, New York, The Macmillan 
Company, 1937; Slocombe, G., The Dangerous Sea: The Mediterranean and 
Its Future, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1937. 



178 THE ENGLISH MIND 

be pushing the Englishman from his particular perch pre- 
ponderance in the textile industries, if not yet from his posi- 
tion on the high seas. Impressed with the danger of his 
fellow-countrymen's "not being a match in the long run even 
for retarded Asiatics, who today still are buying either goods 
or machinery from England," Mr. Douglas Woodruff, in his 
Plato's Britannia, thinking perhaps about Princess Elizabeth's 
chances of becoming Queen of England, muses: 

" They have grown rich and comatose,' said Agathon, 
'and do not think as clearly as they did when they had a 
woman to rule them; for nothing makes men more wide 
awake than being ruled by women and not knowing what 
is coming next or how to give satisfaction, as you, Socrates, 
know better than any of us.' . . - 

" 'It is a striking coincidence,' I said, 'that the English 
have twice been ruled for a long period by a woman, and 
that each time, under an outward appearance of good 
government, far-reaching changes have taken place in the 
nature of the policy. For I do not think anyone will ac- 
cuse us of sacrificing truth for the sake of smartness, if 
we say that under the first of these two Queens a mon- 
archy became an oligarchy, while under the second an 
aristocracy became a democracy.' " * 

Or will it be a reform in an education toward leadership 
which will remedy the serious drawbacks of England's anti- 
intellectualism and bring new assurance of a continuance of 
the Empire ? Will the English, skillful in comprehending and 
handling men, develop also the art of handling ideas? 2 

1 New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1931, pp. 8, 59. 

2 Cf. "Some Reflections on the Functions of Governments and Soldiers, 
Respectively, in a War" and "Lord Haig's Diaries and After," in Lloyd 
George, D., op. dt., Vol. VI, pp. 330-347, 248-359. 



BOOK TWO 



THE FRENCH MIND 



Chapter IV 



FRENCH RATIONALISM AND ITS INSTRUMENTS 



THE TRUE NATURE OF FRENCH RATIONALISM 

THE chronicles of the World War offer curious illustrations 
of the racial admixtures from which the modern European 
nations have issued. For instance, a Captain Muller served as 
aide-de-camp to General Joff re and a Lieutenant-Colonel Zopff , 
as chief of the Intelligence Bureau of the Great General Head- 
quarters (Grand Quartier Central) ; while on the German side 
a commanding officer who played an important part in the 
battle of Tannenberg was General Francois. Such anomalies 
warn the student of comparative national psychology to center 
his effort upon seizing the mental traits that distinguish a 
French Muller or Zopff from a German Francois; for who can 
hope to fathom the biological mysteries of the West? Is not 
Clemenceau described as a man with a "large square head, 
deeply furrowed face, prominent cheek bones, yellow com- 
plexion, a Kalmuck whose white thick drooping moustache 
was, however, that of a Gaul" ? * 

Believing in the wisdom of this course, we shall not fall into 
the temptation to draw a racial pedigree of the French people. 
It is not our purpose to trace the obscure blood strains of this 
cosmopolite of nations; but to discover the national indi- 

1 Bugnet, C., "Foch et Clemenceau," Rev ue des Deux Mondes, 15 decembre 

1936, p. 856. 

181 

W.M-I3 



l82 THE FRENCH MIND 

viduality beneath the personal variations which still bespeak 
the blood of Celt, Roman, and Frank, of Goth, Hun, Norman, 
and Saracen. We seek to read the French mind beneath the 
biological puzzle of bloods; we shall try to seize the true face 
of France as an ethnic-psychological group her distinctive 
system of tastes, inclinations, memories, loyalties, aspirations, 
and beliefs. The French fondness for self-analysis, as indi- 
viduals and as a nation, is of inestimable assistance in such a 
search. 

Representative French students agree in recognizing ration- 
alism as the key characteristic of their national psychology. In 
the philosophical vocabulary, rationalism is a word of more 
than one meaning. In this discussion the term is to be taken 
in its everyday sense rationalism as the belief in the supremacy 
of reason over the rest of the human faculties. The difference 
between the rationalism of the French and that of other na- 
tions is primarily one of degree. The French are inclined to 
believe that reason is the only dependable regulator of life. 
The typical Frenchman, it is fittingly said, believes that people 
can be swung on an idea as on a cord. The truth to him is 
something to be seen with the light of one's reasoning power, 
and not felt, more or less vaguely, in the heart. It may be of 
interest to recall some representative professions of faith in the 
supreme power of reason. 

Descartes taught that the foremost capacity of man is that 
of correct judgment and of distinguishing the true from the 
false. In the Second Meditation he defines man as the think- 
ing animal: "Strictly speaking, I am nothing but something 
that thinks, i.e., a mind, an instrument of understanding." 
.According to Descartes, through whom speaks the popular 
wisdom of France, the way to truth is not that of intuitive 
prophetic vision but of an orderly, methodical search a clear, 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 183 

logical-mathematical reasoning; the undying example of the 
cogent power of reason is the Cartesian philosophical system 
itself. 

The same faith finds concrete expression in the literature 
and history of France. Voltaire was convinced that the moral- 
ity of a nation depended on the clarity of its thinking. And 
Beaumarchais, whose plays were an important factor in shap- 
ing the French Revolution, gives in the closing lines of the 
Marriage of Figaro this characteristic manifesto: 

"One man is king; another, shepherd- 
Just through the fate of birth. 

Mere chance sets them so far apart; 
Intelligence or worth 

Of mind alone can change all that. 
Death breaks the altar where 

Our incense burned to twenty kings: 
Immortal stands Voltaire P 1 

This is a revolutionary counterpart of Richelieu's profession 
of faith in the power of reason, which he sets forth in his 
Political Testament: "Reason should be the regulator and the 
guiding principle in all things. One should act in all matters 
in accordance with the voice of reason, rather than of senti- 
ment and emotion." 

M. Gustave Lanson, the late director of the famous Ecole 
Normale Superieure and one of the most distinguished and 
influential leaders of French education, analyzes the ration- 
alism of the French ideal in the following terms: 

"The Renaissance brought with it a deluge of cultural 
importations, chiefly Greek, Latin, Italian. But old France 
was by no means submerged in this deluge; she had her 

1 Acte V, scene 19, septieme couplet. 



54 THE FRENCH MIND 

voice in the choice and adaptation of all that was offered. 
She rejected or modified all that was incompatible with 
the national spirit, as molded by the four or five preceding 
centuries, or that was out of harmony with the conditions 
and customs of France. 

"We have borrowed and absorbed from ancient civiliza- 
tion and from Italian civilization those elements best suited 
to enrich our national culture, which developed and for- 
tified it while helping us to be the more ourselves. 

"The sixteenth century had begun the sifting process 
which was terminated by the end of the eighteenth cen- 
tury; the seventeenth century had contributed an original 
reaction in the assimilation of the importations of the 
Renaissance. If we examine the wealth of our literature 
accumulated during these three classical centuries, how is 
the French ideal expressed in it? 

"First, the French ideal manifests itself as faith in the 
power of intelligence, and in its instruments, knowledge 
and reasoning. It is characterized also by the will to regu- 
late life and action by reason alone, as it is marked by the 
desire to understand and by diffidence toward things un- 
intelligible. 

"Hence arose the characteristically French effort to think 
well, in other words, the effort (a) to arrive at concepts 
which are true to reality, capable of demonstration, and, 
consequently, universally valid; (b) to think clearly, 
illuminating each step by analysis; (c) to think with 
order, that is to say, with due observance of logical rela- 
tions between concepts as well as between premises and 
inferences; (d) to observe the sense of measure and har- 
mony in the thinking process, in other words, to avoid 
sacrificing one verity to another. To sum up, the history 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 185 

of literature of the three classical centuries reveals as the 
pre-eminent French ideal the pursuit of truth, clarity, 
logic, and a sense of proportion; which is completed by 
the hatred of falsity, hypocrisy, vagueness, confusion, ex- 
aggeration, and bluff. 

-"Second, this ideal of perfect intellectual form does not 
mean that the French are enslaved by form or that their 
ideal is entirely and exclusively intellectual. Reason does 
not rule out sentiment. It is an error to imagine that 
French literature is desiccated. Reason has its passions, 
above all the passion for verifying, rectifying, and im- 
planting the practices of justice, humanity, and love. Im- 
pulses of sentimental and mystical nature when passed 
through the refinery of reason become moral truths, while 
moral evil becomes an intellectual absurdity, and the 
odious is strangled by intellectual ridicule. The^Freneh, 
then, accomplish through^. j^so^jwhat^ others do through 
irrationanGaoraT^entiment and religious fervor. In the 
case of the l^rencHpsEeer reason is capable of inspiring 

?thusiasm and of arousing the passion of pleasure. 
"Finally, the French mind is revealed in the literary his- 
tory of the three classical centuries as essentially and emi- 
nently practical. /The French intellect is not satisfied with 
mere construction of ideas or mere play of sentiments. 
The old French common sense compels the intellect to 
apply itself to the handling of concrete problems of the 
world of realities. As a result, the French ideal is to think 
well in order to live well and to ameliorate life. Whoever 
is familiar with our literature, has doubtless perceived in 
it something else, something more potent than the mere 
product of precise intellectuals and estheticians. Our lit- 
erature seeks to do more than merely train intellects and 



l86 THE FRENCH MIND 

to give esthetic pleasures. It seeks also to implant a prac- 
tical ideal of good life. 

"Our literature is not an image of a civilization; it is a 
civilization itself to be more exact, a civilization in the 
making in which the ideal constantly strives to surpass 
reality. Even the ideal of the beautiful is transformed in 
it into the practical order of things, such as make life more 
agreeable through the invention of fashions in furniture, 
dress, and manners." * 

When the extremists among the leaders of the French Revo- 
lution sought to do away with the traditional religion, they 
offered to the people as a substitute for the worship of Christ 
the cult of the goddess of reason. The conservative Alfred de 
Vigny defines God in La Bouteille h la rner as follows: "The 
true God, the Almighty God, is the God of ideas." Sully 
Prudhomme, the political philosopher, was convinced that 
while "one is happy only through the medium of feeling, no 
one can be great except through the power of thought." 2 
Henri Poincare, the celebrated mathematician and physicist, 
writes of the essential nature of man: "Man is but a tiny dot 
of light amidst the blind fury of the elements; the human 
mind is the dot of light that is proof against any tempest, and 

1 L'ldeal frangais dans la litterature francaise de la 'Renaissance a la Revo- 
lution, Bibliotheque de la civilisation frangaise, Paris, 1927, pp. n ff. See also 
Feuillerat, A., French Life and Ideal, New York, Yale University Press, 1925; 
Fouillee, A., Psychologic du peuple francais, Paris, Alcan, 1903; Hassell, A,, 
The French People, New York, Appleton, 1901; Huddleston, S., France and 
the French, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925; Lawton, P., The Third 
French Republic, London, Grant Richards, 1909; Lebon, A. and Pelet, P., 
France as It Is, London, Cassell & Company, 1888; Sarolea, Ch., Le reveil de 
France, London, Allen & Unwin, 1916. 

2 Academic fran^aise, Recueil des discours de reception, "Discours de M. 
Henri Poincare du 28 Janvier 1909 venant prendre seance a la place de M. 
Sully Prudhomme." 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 187 

it is the only light we have." * This is but a restatement of 
an observation of Pascal's, made some two hundred years be- 
fore in the Pensees: "All our worth consists in thinking well. 
It is in this realm that we should seek for greatness, and not 
in space or time, which we cannot fill anyhow. Let us then 
work at thinking well; such is the fundamental principle of 
morals." In the same vein M. Andre Gide declares: 

"Ideas, I must confess, interest me more than men in- 
terest me more than anything. They live; they fight; they 
perish like men. Of course it may be said that our only 
knowledge of them is through men, just as our only 
knowledge of the wind is through the reeds that it bends; 
but all the same the wind is of more importance than the 
reeds." 2 

M. Edouard Herriot, a brilliant lecturer and essayist highly 
esteemed for his Cartesian qualities of lucidity and fine analysis, 
even by those who deplore his political activities as a leading 
member of the Radical Socialist Party, declares, to the applause 
of the French public: 

". . . The source of life and the principal source of all 
harmony in life is in our mind. . . . Mind is the real 
origin of the just and the beautiful. Even animals and 
plants and inanimate bodies of nature are subject to the 
law of mathematics, that is to say, of reason. Nothing in 
nature is the result of chance. And in order to create 
beauty, it is necessary to imitate reason by accepting its 
laws of harmony. A beautiful piece of work is distin- 

1 Ibid., "La r6ponse de M. Ernest Lavisse a M. Henri PoincareV' 

2 The Counterfeiters, Modern Library, 1931, p. 179- 



l88 THE FRENCH MIND 

guished by the proscription of all elements of chance. It 
is a work in which the defects due to the lack of precision 
of our senses are corrected by the counsel of the intellect. 
... My friends, be faithful to reason. . . . There is no 
real greatness except that which issues from reason. Light 
surpasses in beauty both form and color." x 

On the whole the statesmen of France, her scholars, philoso- 
phers, and men of letters, whether conservative, liberal, or 
radical, are distinguished from their contemporaries in Eng- 
land and Germany by their faith in the power of reason as the 
supreme arbiter of life. Unfortunately, their worship at the 
ai'?.r of reason does not save the rationalists of France from 
dissensions, strife, and error, which would seem to cast some 
doubt upon the omnipotent validity of reason as the sole regu- 
lator of life. This discrepancy, however, though perceived by 
not a few Frenchmen, does not appear to have shaken the de- 
votion of the French nation as a whole to the cult of reason. 
In small things and great, rationalism manifests itself in the 
iife of the French; it is a traditional attitude. In the Chanson 
ie Roland the bard compares Roland, the valiant, with his 
friend Olivier, the prudent, not without a flick of reproach: 

"Roland is brave, but Olivier is wise." 2 

Foch, the future marshal of France, voiced both the civil and 
military philosophy of his country in this characteristic advice 
to his students in the General Staff College: In order to be a 
military commander, one must be able to think under any cir- 
cumstances, especially when the muscles give up and the nerves 
grate. 8 

1 Sous l f olivier, Paris, Hachette, 1930, pp. 141, 145. 

2 See Petit de Julleville, L., Histoire de la langue et dc la literature fran- 
gaise des origines a zpoo, Paris, Armand Colin, 1896-99, t. I, p. 68. 

3 Foch, F., Principes de la guerre, Paris, Berger-Levrault, 1917, pp. 17 ff. 



FRENCH RATIONALISM l8p 

The development of bon sens, that is the sense of proportion 
growing out of a clear perception of causes and effects and of 
the true meaning of things, is the supreme goal of French 
education. The admonition which the French child hears 
most frequently from his mother is, "Sois sage, sois raison- 
nable.^ So La Fontaine in his fable The Shepherd Who Be- 
came a Minister of the State says of the good fellow, who 
stepped so successfully from sheep-cote to court: "He had a 
lot of good sense and the rest took care of itself." Counsels of 
prudence and reason not infrequently occur in that charming 
book of adolescent mysticism and adventure, Alain-Fournier's 
Le Grand Meaulnes, which is a sort of French equivalent 
of Huck}eberry Finn. The crowning compliment paid to 
Madame de Pompadour by Abbe Bernis celebrates the all- 
powerful marquise as "the most prudent of beauties." * 

It is only logical that a rationalistic people should revere 
intellectual achievement. The popular masses, having de- 
spoiled and in large part wiped out the feudal nobility during 
the Reign of Terror, have since ignored the hereditary aris- 
tocracy. Only those who have distinguishd themselves as aris- 
tocrats of the mind enjoy popular respect. The average Pa- 
risian would not turn for a second look at a scion of the old 
nobility, but he is avid to see the distinguished man of letters, 
the scholar, the philosopher, of whom he has read in the daily 
papers so often. Edmond Rostand is true to French thought 
in the dialogue between father and son in the first act of 
Cyrano de Bergerac: 

"THE YOUTH (to his father). The Academy is present? 
"THE BURGHER. Yes ... I perceive more than one 

1 Sainte-Beuve, C.-A., Causeries du Lundi, Paris, Gamier Freres, t II, pp. 
492-493. 



THE FRENCH MIND 

member of it. Yonder arc Boudu, Boissat and Curcau 
. . . Porcheres, Colomby, Bourzeys, Bourdon, Arbaut . . . 
All names not one of which will be forgotten. What a 
beautiful thought it is!" 

In Paris such throngs of men and women are anxious to see 
a new member of the French Academy installed in his chair 
that it is necessary for the Prefect of Police to send a special 
squad of traffic policemen to handle admission to the Institute 
of France when the "Immortals" formally receive their new 
colleague. France is also unique in her custom of honoring 
her intellectual leaders in the naming of warships. The list of 
the active units of the French navy includes, for example, the 
battleships Diderot, Voltaire, Condorcet, and the cruiser, Ernest 
Renan. No unit in the British navy has ever been named for 
Shakespeare, Milton, Locke, or Berkeley; nor even has a Ger- 
man warship been christened, to our knowledge, Leibniz, Kant, 
Goethe, or Schiller. 

The French value intellectual discipline as a great virtue. 
By intellectual discipline is meant the habit of orderly, clear, 
concentrated thinking; the habit of using one's thinking power 
as a kind of penetrating and tenacious beam of light to 
illuminate whatever object it is turned upon ajid not to leave 
that object before grasping its full meaning. The mind that 
is not deflected from its habit of ordered consideration and 
cogent analysis by untoward events or insidious designs is 
valued on par with, if not above, courage. Fostered by the 
school, the family, and other educational agencies, intellectual 
discipline is glorified in the national heroes of France; their 
glory is, of course, hallowed by the family, the school, and the 
arts, especially literature and the theater. 
At the state banquet given by the French Government in 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 

honor of Major Costes and Lieutenant Bellonte in October, 
1930, after their return from the Paris-New York non-stop 
flight the first in the history of aviation the Prime Minister, 
M. Andre Tardieu, praised above all the preparation for the 
flight in which minutely elaborated co-operation between 
science and technique launched a great battle between the 
principle of method and the adventure of the unforeseeable. 1 
The Editor of the Revue des Deux Mondes, M. Rene Doumic, 
writes of the event: 

"What seems to me of especial importance is the lesson 
to be drawn from the exploit of Costes and Bellonte. 
This lesson is now clear to everybody. It is the demon- 
stration of the decisive role of a factor which is predomi- 
nant in all scientific work, notably, method. . . . Every- 
thing pertinent to success had been studied, prepared, and 
arranged to the smallest detail: a special aircraft built for 
the purpose, the route scientifically chosen, the most favor- 
able atmospheric conditions selected and seized. Reflec- 
tion and pre-vision, together with sang-froid, have always 
been the surest guarantee of success, and today, amidst the 
complexities of modernity, this is more than ever true. 
After the achievements of Lindbergh, whose triumph also 
was due, in part at least, to minute preparation, Costes 
and Bellonte have now given us an excellent demonstra- 
tion of the value of method." 2 

At the time of the death and funeral of Marshal Joffre the 
press and public speakers extolled "the Cartesian reason and 
method incarnated in Joffre" as the highest quality possessed 
by the departed general. It was stressed, in complete accord 

*Le Temps, 31 octobre 1930. 

2 Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 septembre 1930, pp. 470 f. 



Ip2 THE FRENCH MIND 

with the historical truth recognized not only by French and 
Allied military historians but also by the Germans, 1 that 
Joffre's greatest achievement as the Commander-in-Chief of 
the French armies was the Battle of the Marne following the 
strategic retreat August 24-September 5, 1914. The impetuous 
German armies, pouring into France through Belgium, sought 
to encircle and to destroy the principal French forces. Joffre 
remained unperturbed in spite of the critical turn of events; 
he was unshaken in his adherence to the clear lesson of mili- 
tary history, which promised salvation to France on condition 
that the military and civil authorities keep their heads. This 
lesson, taught to Napoleon by Kutuzov in 1812, is to the effect 
that a country is not defeated as long as the bulk of its armed 
forces remains intact and under discipline. Besides, Joffre 
foresaw that the German invasion would sooner or later bulge 
forward into a crescent between the two great fortresses, Paris 
and Verdun, from which the French could attack the enemy 
on the flanks, and thus create a favorable situation for a gen- 
eral attack along the entire front. 

Having clearly understood all this, Joffre did not permit 
anyone or anything to deflect him from the only logical plan 
of defense. He retreated in order to withdraw from the claws 
of the enemy, then irresistible, until they had been numbed 
by a prolonged exertion in the attempt to seize and destroy 
the evasive opponent and had generally been weakened to 
make it possible for Joffre to check if not break their mo- 
mentum. When such time came, Joffre stopped his retreating 
armies and delivered the battle of the Marne. 2 

1 See Kuhl, H. J., von, Der Welttyieg, Berlin, Verlag Tradition, 1929, B. 
II, S, 77. 

2 Note: The military operation named by historians the battle of the Marne 
was, in reality, conducted along the entire front, the principal encounters 
taking place in the valleys of the Marne and the Ourcq. See Joffre, J., 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 193 

While we are on the subject of military history, the follow- 
ing testimony of a well-known English journalist may be 
cited: 

"No Englishman could have visited the French front 
during the war without being struck with the lucidity and 
skill with which anyone in command of anything, from 
the most illustrious general to the sergeant in the trench, 
could expound his job or enlarge on the strategical posi- 
tion to the stranger. Nowhere could one discover that 
inarticulate soldierly embarrassment which, to the Eng- 
lish mind, is supposed to distinguish the man of action 
from the man of words, and to render the former in- 
capable of coherent talk. In a country where children are 
educated to regard accomplished talk as a part of the 
equipment for life, audiences are not tolerant of the blun- 
dering and floundering which are regarded as menial in 
men of weight in this country." * 

Military or civilian, no compliment is so highly praised by 
the Frenchman as that idiomatic, bd esprit "fine, well- 
nourished, and graceful mind." In, general, French flattery is 
of a nature distinctly intellectual. A good example is given 
by Dr. John Moore, a learned Scotsman, who studied medi- 
cine and surgery for two years in Paris (1749-1751) and trav- 
eled for five years on the Continent with the Duke of Ham- 
ilton (1772-1777). It will be appreciated by contemporary 
foreign visitors to France: 

"A stranger, quite new and unversed in their language, 

whose accent is uncouth and ridiculous in the ears of the 

Memoires, Paris, Plon, 1932, t I, p. 3^45 Poincare, R., Au service de la 
France, Paris, Plon, 1926-1933, t. V, p. 279. 

1 Spender, J. A., The Public Life, New York, Frederick A. Stokes Co., 
1925, Vol. I, p. 320, 



194 THE FRENCH MIND 

French, and who can scarcely open his mouth without 
making a blunder in grammar or idiom, is heard with the 
most serious attention and never laughed at, even when 
he utters the oddest solecism or equivocal expression. 

" 'I am afraid/ said I yesterday to a French gentleman, 
'the phrase which I used just now is not French.' 'Mon- 
sieur/ replied he, 'this expression, it is true, is not idio- 
matic, but it deserves to be.' " * 

The politician, "working up" his constituency, addresses its 
members, severally and collectively: "You who grasp things 
so well, who have an open mind and see farther than 
others . . ." 



THE INSTRUMENTS OF RATIONALISM: INTELLEC- 
TUAL DISCIPLINE AND THE POWER OF 
EXPRESSION 

If the power of reason is the supreme regulator of life, then 
reason itself should be diligently cultivated to fulfill its vital 
task. How can reason be groomed to serve as the guide and 
mainstay in the life of the individual and the nation? This 
can be achieved, the French believe, by the combination of 
two methods: first, by training the school population for pre- 
cise, clear, logical thinking; second, by exacting from the elite, 
the aspirants to leadership in all walks*'bf life, a high degree 
of fertile thought, that is the thinking power from which no 
significant meanings of relevant data can escape; and the 
ability to crystallize thought in a lucid, comprehensive, yet 
concise statement. 

How can these accomplishments be ascertained? An elabo- 

M View of the Society and Manners in France, Switzerland, and Ger- 
many, printed at the Apollo Press, in Boston, for David West, 1792, p. 15. 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 195 

rate system of examinations for admission, promotion, and 
graduation has been worked out, which functions throughout 
the educational system. Some jester has said that the entire 
French nation may be divided into two parts, those who take 
examinations and those who give them. The 'adults, who are 
already beyond the reach of boards of examiners which grant 
degrees and diplomas, are motivated to keep in mental trim 
by various examinations conditioning promotion in the civil 
and military service, and above all by the public expectation 
that one who aspires to a position of leadership in professional 
life or in national affairs possess and show intellectual dis- 
tinction. 

It is said that in France even a dinner party conversation 
can readily take on the significance of a competitive examina- 
tion. The rationalist refuses to give support to the mystique 
of the great silent man, but judges as mediocre or inferior 
those who have nothing apt to say. In June, 1867, Emperor 
Alexander II of Russia and King William IV of Prussia visited 
Paris. M. Michel Chevalier, a senator and former professor at 
the College de France, notes in his diary with undisguised dis- 
approval that the monarchs, neither of whom was a brilliant 
talker, "have had very little personal success. If it were not 
for the attempt on the life of the Czar, they would have been 
rapidly forgotten. They have not said one word worth re- 
membering, and did not even have enough sense to have some- 
body coin one for them, as did the Count of Artois* in 
1814." x Strict in judging the intellectual prowess of "front- 
page" foreigners, the French are still more implacable in judg- 
ing their own countrymen who aspire to leadership. In ac- 
cordance with this national tradition, examiners do not hesi- 

* The count knew his Frenchmen! 

1 Revue des> Deux Mondes, i & novembre 1932, pp. 181 . 



196 THE FRENCH MIND 

tate to express to a candidate, in no uncertain terms, their dis- 
approval of a poor composition or oral answer. Critics and 
book reviewers do the same thing for authors. 

Voltaire once remarked that the French nation "is fond of 
all types of literatures, from mathematics to the epigram." x 
Indeed, whatever discussion is put before the public must pos- 
sess the qualities of a literary composition. It must be an in- 
teresting exposition of facts and thoughts, clearly analyzed and 
expressed in well-chosen words, with all possible brevity and 
with pitiless elimination of the superfluous, A finished style 
is expected even from the scientist and the technician. To 
borrow from M. Henri Bergson: 

"There are two things that we value above everything 
else in French education, the qualities of clarity and com- 
position which characterize the lectures of our master 
teachers and inspire their habit of constantly making ap- 
peal to creative thinking on the part of the pupil. These 
habits of clarity and composition stand, if for anything, 
for intellectual probity and the desire to make knowledge 
accessible to the greatest number of people. 

"With us, no scholar can boast that he has written books 
which no one save a dozen fellow-scholars can understand. 
We do not have a caste of the high priests of science. We 
believe that clarity is the mainstay of democracy. . . . 

"To mention philosophy, in particular, we do not like 
philosophical discussions bristling with technical, barbarous- 
sounding terms that erect a wall between philosophy and 
the general public. Our greatest thinkers, from Descartes 
on, have believed that there is no philosophical idea, how- 
1 "Conseil a un journaliste," 10 mai 1737. 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 197 

ever profound and subtle, which could not be expressed in 
a language intelligible to everybody." * 

While he adores clarity and is intolerant of obscurity and 
fumbling in speech or writing, th Frenchman dislikes the af- 
fected, trumpeting, and hammering sort of clarification of the 
points presented to him. Correct French is characterized by 
the clear articulation, by the delicate chiseling of every syllable, 
but it admits of very slight emphasis; the Frenchman resents 
emphatic intonation as a reflection on his intelligence. Charcot, 
the celebrated physician, while fully appreciating the genius of 
Beethoven, "detested Wagner, whom he considered ... as 
being overemphatic and long-winded." 2 This. is a character- 
istically French attitude, though perhaps not wholly justified in 
this case. The French mind is inimical to all obscurity, how- 
ever ardent, and to all over-emphasis, however well-intentioned. 
Flights of poetic imagination and depth of mystic vision do not 
reconcile tie Frenchman to a lack of strict unity and clarity in 
composition. More than one eminent French critic, Taine 
among the rest, failed to be charmed by Faust, because it "is 
not of one piece," but, like some Gothic cathedral built and 
rebuilt in the course of centuries, it lacks the balance and unity 
of a classic structure. 8 

1 Quoted in Bougie, C., and Gastinel, P., Qtfest-ce que I' esprit fran$ais? 
Paris, Librairie Marcel Riviere, 1930, pp. 100 f. 

2 Daudet, L., Memoirs, New York, Dial Press, 1925, p. 133. 

8 Cf. L. Daudet's appraisal of the works of Henrik Ibsen: "The works of 
the author of 'Peer Gynt* and The Master-Builder' are, one and all, obscure 
and confused. His imagination shows sometimes a lyric beauty; often it is 
original and always sympathetic; but it is enveloped in an atmosphere of 
mist. Ibsen's laughter is a grimace, his melancholy a prolonged stomach 
ache, his dialogue a series of mutual reproaches. Every one of his characters 
has suicidal tendencies. Their passions are haunted by their fears. They 
seem to live in cellars of bitterness, pessimism, and futile concupiscence. ^ IE 
that is what love is like in northern lands, then long live Romeo and Juliet, 
Don Quixote and Dulcinea." (Memoirs, dt., p. 218.) 



NM-I4 



198 THE FRENCH MIND 

Goethe, on the other hand, expressed in the Conversa- 
tions with Ecftermann his admiration for French literary 
art: 

"Often, my own productions seem wholly strange to me. 
To-day, I read a passage in French, and thought as I read: 
This man speaks cleverly enough you would not have 
said it otherwise.' When I looked at it closely, I found it 
is a passage translated from my own writings! . . ." x 

"I have known and loved Moliere from my youth, and 
have learned from him during my whole life. I never fail 
to read some of his plays every year, that I may keep up 
a constant intercourse with what is excellent. It is not 
merely the perfectly artistic treatment that delights me; it 
is the amiable nature, the highly-formed mind, of the poet. 
There is in him a grace and a feeling for the decorous, and 
a tone of good society, which his innate beautiful nature 
could only attain by daily intercourse with the most emi- 
nent men of his age. Of Menander, I only know a few 
fragments; but these give me so high an idea of him, that 
I look upon this great Greek as the only man who could 
be compared to Moliere." 2 

The genius of Voltaire delighted Goethe: 

"Indeed, all is good that is written by so great a genius 
as Voltaire, though I cannot excuse all his profanity. But 
you are right to give time to those little poems addressed 
to persons; they are among the most charming of his 
works. Not a line but is full of thought: clear, bright, 
and graceful." 8 

1 New York, E. P. Button & Co., Everyman's Library, 1930, p. 146. 
'"" ?. 180. 7WL,p. 285. 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 199 

Goethe praised Gerald's French translation of his master- 
piece in the following terms: 

"I do not like to read my Faust any more in German; 
but in this French translation all seems again fresh, new, 
and spirited. Faust is, however, quite incommensurable, 
and all attempts to bring it nearer to the understanding are 
vain. Also, the first part is the product of a rather dark 
state in the individual. However, this very darkness has 
a charm for men's minds; and they work upon it till they 
are tired, as upon all insoluble problems. . . ." * 

The rationalistic tradition of intellectual discipline, of artful 
and artistic employment of the power of speech, is of long 
standing. 

The French national epics intrigue us by their unity of de- 
sign, their rapid and logical movement, ancj by the absence of 
sentimental details and mystic obscurities./ in the just words 
of M. Gaston Pariis, "Movement in the Chanson de Roland is 
simple and logical from the beginning to the end ... the 
narrative, if it errs at all against good style, does so through 
an excess of symmetry rather than through lack of unity." 2 

The art of the bards who composed the Chansons de Geste 
consists primarily in the careful observance of the natural se- 
quence of the events they relate and in the avoidance of the 
superfluous: Rien de tropl The bard went straight to the point 
and presented his story swiftly and clearly, with the strictest 
economy of words. Pastoral details and emotional outbursts 
were foreign to his art. The national taste prescribed for him 
a sober and strict sense of measure. A rationalistic interest in 
facts and ideas, as opposed to sentiment and the mysteries of 



., p. 341. f , . 

2 Petit de Julleville, L., op. cit., 1. 1, "Introduction," page q. 



200 THE FRENCH MIND 

the subconscious, mark French literature from the very begin- 
ning. 1 

The language destined to serve as the vehicle of such literary 
taste owes a great deal to the anonymous contributions of the 
gifted causeurs and raconteurs of all classes; yet the upper class 
deserves special mention in any consideration of the history 
of the French language, which, to borrow the picturesque 
words of M. Ferdinand Brunot, "out of the dialect spoken by 
the Roman legionary or colonist or slave has come the lan- 
guage spoken by the inhabitant of Paris and written by the 
academician." 2 While, in common with the feudal nobility 
of other lands, the French aristocracy was guilty of various 
excesses and abuses of power, it did apply itself wholeheartedly 
to the task of effecting phonetic harmony and clarification of 
the vernacular as soon as the new spirit had put an end to the 
medieval domination of Latin. When the middle class began 
to rise, as the pupil and the rival of the aristocracy, to its legiti- 
mate place in national life, it rapidly developed an ambitious 
and not unsuccessful determination to equal, and indeed sur- 
pass, the upper class in the elegancies of speech. As in the re- 
finement of manners, the middle class passed through an in- 
evitable phase of prtdositt finicalness, affectation, and exag- 
geration, immortalized by Moliere in Femmes savmtes and 
Precicuses ridictdes. Because of false fear that ordinary words 
for ordinary things might sound vulgar, the exaggerated prt- 
ciosite demanded the employment of the most extravagant 
periphrasis. Feet became "the dear sufferers" (ks chers souf- 
fronts) ; hands, "the moving beautiful" (les belles mouvantes); 

1 Cf. Lanson, G., Histoirc de la littemture jrangcdse, Paris, Hachette, pp. 
30 f. 

2 Brunot, P., Histoire de langue fran^aise des engines a /poo, Paris, Armand 
Colin, t I, "Introduction," p. i. 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 201 

teeth, "the furniture of the mouth" (I* ameublement de la 
bouchc)\ wig, "the youth of aged persons" (la jeunesse des 
vieillards)y and so on. 

It was in 1635, while the ancient aristocracy still held sway, 
that Cardinal Richelieu established the French Academy. Its 
traditional ideals have been repeatedly described by the acade- 
micians in inaugural addresses. The following quotation is 
taken from the address made before the Academy by M. Vitet 
at the inauguration of M. 1'Abbe Gratry: 

"Whatever may be said about us as a body, we are thor- 
oughly faithful to the traditions of our institution, and to 
speak well is our primary passion. When, therefore, we 
discover in the throng of men of letters a real writer, that 
is to say, one of those rare minds which respect a language 
less by obedience to its rules and usages learned in school 
than by the natural and subtle zeal of a devotee; one of 
those men who use words without enslaving themselves to 
them but tame words and make them serve the mind 
without, however, imposing on words any sort of phan- 
tastic or loud carriage; one of those who know how to 
find in the traditional forms of a language an accumulated 
force which, properly employed, is a sufficient means for 
expressing with powerful lucidity the most delicate move- 
ments of the soul and the thought when good fortune 
brings such a writer into our field of vision, this is enough 
to charm us. When, being already attracted by the charm 
of the style, we, furthermore, discover under the pleasant 
form at one and the same time limpid and colorful, cor- 
rect and yet original, also a noble heart and an intelligence 
of a high order, a sincerity naive and enamoured of truth, 
you can judge for yourself how the attraction is increased. 



202 THE FRENCH MIND 

In fact, the seduction becomes complete and irresistible. 
Such is the solution of your enigma this is why you are 
here among us." x 

The Academy has become in the course of time a kind of 
living Pantheon for at least some of the distinguished states- 
men and soldiers of France. It has, however, never lost sight 
of its historic task as guardian of the language of the nation 
and the highest magistrate protecting the language from the 
infiltration of words and expressions which lack phonetic 
purity and logical clarity. In fulfillment of this task, the 
Academy issues a dictionary of the French words in good 
usage; the first edition of the dictionary was issued in 1694, 
which was followed by the editions of 1718, 1740, 1762, 1798, 
^35> ^78, 1935. The Times aptly commented on the news of 
the completion of the latest edition: 

"Five members of the Academic Frangaise yesterday 
completed the work, begun 57 years ago, of preparing the 
eighth edition of its dictionary of the French language. 
. . . The unusual length of time which has been needed 
for the production of the latest edition is largely explained 
by the number of new words which have been brought 
into the language by science and sport, and by accelerated 
borrowing from other tongues. 

"Imbued with a proper jealousy for the purity of their 
tongue, the Academicians have been faced with many diffi- 
cult problems of recent years, especially in dealing with 
the numerous words which stand astride the border line 
dividing freshly imported or newly coined slang from the 
ripened products of long usage. Thus, after much solemn 

1 Academic Frangaise, Recueil des discours, Paris, Firmin Didot Freres, 
1872, p. 178. 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 203 

discussion, they reluctantly gave technical i not moral 
approval to the word 'tord-boyaux' (twist-guts), as a gen- 
eral term to describe the fiercer alcoholic liquors, but in a 
recent session utterly refused to admit the word 'Yankee' 
into the sacred columns." * 

While the middle class first imitated and then actually sur- 
passed the upper class in intellectual matters in general and in 
linguistic interest in particular, the lower class has imitated the 
middle class. This imitation and emulation has produced some 
noteworthy peculiarities of French everyday life. Even the 
uneducated like "big" words; and municipalities employ in 
street signs such "big" expressions as arrt facultatif, or "op- 
tional stop," for arr& sur signal, "stop on signal." The French 
language has no idiomatic expression for the disparaging ex- 
pression, "high brow," perhaps because every rationalistically 
minded person ardently desires to be one. 

French newspapers, even small local ones, are characterized 
on the whole by a sober, correct, literary style as well as by 
the consideration given to literary subjects and to problems of 
language. The larger newspapers and many popular maga- 
zines carry special sections devoted to the questions raised by 
readers on linguistic problems, which are solved by literary 
experts. A public address is judged by the reading public of 
all ranks of society, not only with relation to content but also 
to form. In July, 1932, M. Edouard Herriot, then Prime Min- 
ister, gave in a public speech an account of recent negotiations 
at Geneva. Some newspapers in reporting the Prime Min- 
ister's statement of his determination to pursue the policies of 
peace attributed to him the words, je ne faillirai fas, while 
other newspapers printed, je ne faiblirai fas. An avalanche of 

*The Times (London) Educational Supplement, September 14, 1935- 



204 TCB FRENCH MIND 

inquiries as to the exact expression used by M. Herriot broke 
out and the linguistic battle was on to determine which expres- 
sion is the better usage. 

So we find M. Doumer, President of the Republic, attracting 
wide attention by the construction used in referring to Paris 
as the city "whose very streets and squares have been bathed 
in heroism and liberty": Paris . . . baigne scs rues et ses places 
de I'herdisme t de Iibert6. The question of the day at once 
became whether baigne dans is not to be preferred to baigne 
de. Again urgent inquiries went into the newspapers and the 
purists sat in judgment. A verdict was rendered upholding the 
President, upon the precedent established by Lesconte de Lisle 
who, in Le Sommeil du Condor wrote: Baigne d'une lueur qui 
soigne sur la neige? It is no wonder that when the grammar 
recently issued by the French Academy was subjected to criti- 
cism by M. Ferdinand Brunot, the celebrated historian of the 
French language, the controversy at "once became a matter of 
intense national interest; savant and taxi driver alike were pro- 
foundly drawn into the controversy. 

The prominence of literary problems in French daily press 
and periodicals and the strictly sober literary style of French 
journalism sometimes surprise foreign journalists. News that 
might elsewhere be blazoned in the largest type on the front 
page often has to be found, if at all, in a leading French news- 
paper such as Le Temps, Le Figaro, and the like, among the 
"miscellaneous items" printed in small type. A new facet of 
Moliere, Racine, or an outstanding living member of the 
French Academy "makes the front page" in France much 
more readily than news about a prominent politician or a star 
of the athletic or theatrical world. 

1 Knauer, K. m von, "Die Bedeutung sprachlicher Angelelegenheiten in der 
franzosischen Offentiichkeit," Die neueren Sprachen, 1935, 7/8 Heft, SS. 283- 
293. 



JTJU!,JNUn KATIONALISM 205 

Small wonder that the nation which believes in the supreme 
value of reason and in the supreme importance of intellectual 
discipline has developed a language characterized by a high 
degree of lucid simplicity and elastic clarity. The French lan- 
guage, as a result, has been adopted as a convenient medium 
for international intercourse, the accepted medium of transla- 
tion, oral or written. This position the French language occu- 
pied without challenge for over two centuries, during which ' 
period the French text of international treaties was the final 
and authoritative one in all cases of dispute. The formal inter- 
national supremacy of the French language in the diplomatic 
field came to an end with the Treaty of Versailles, when 
France had to yield to the demand of her English-speaking 
allies and accepted the English text as no less valid than the 
French. 1 The recent Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assist- 
ance also carries a clause stipulating that the French and 
Russian texts be held of equal validity. 

It may be of interest to recall the apotheosis of the French 
language to be found in the Memorandum on the Universality 
of the French Language, offered by Antoine de Rivarol in 1783 
to the Prussian Academy of Sciences in competition for a prize 
for the best paper on the subject, "What Is It That Has Made 
the French Language a Universal Tongue? What Is the Jus- 
tification of the Claim on the Part of the French Language 
to Such a Position? Is It to Be Presumed that the French 
Language Will Preserve Its Privileged Position?" 

"What distinguishes the French language from other 
languages, ancient and modern, is the structure of our sen- 
tence; it is always direct and necessarily clear. The French 
always put the subject first, then the verb which stands for 

1 Temperley, H. W. V., A History of the Peace Conference of Paris, New 
York, Oxford University Press, 1920, Vol. I, pp. 253 f. 



206 THE FRENCH MIND 

an action of the subject, and only after this comes the ob- 
ject toward which the action is directed. Such is the 
sequence prescribed by logic and common sense. Now, 
this sequence so necessary for the clarity of reasoning is 
inimical to emotionalism; emotionalism would name first 
the object that arouses a sensation. This is why the people 
who are swayed by sentiments do not follow the direct, 
logical structure of the sentence, but indulge in more or 
less haphazard construction, as emotion may direct them. 
This manner is prevalent in the world, because men are 
inclined to follow the voice of passion rather than that of 
reason. . . . 

"The French language alone has remained a personifi- 
cation of reason, as it were, thanks to the unique gift of 
the French people, which consists in not deviating from 
the direct, logical structure of the sentence. ... It is in 
vain that passions agitate us and incite us to adopt the 
emotional order of sentence structure. The French syn- 
tax remains incorruptible and implacable. Such is that 
admirable source and the presiding genius of the French 
tongue. What is not clear is not French. What is not 
clear may be English, Italian, even Greek or Latin; but it 
cannot be French. . . . One may say that the French lan- 
guage is of geometrical nature, that it is formed of straight 
lines; while curves and their infinite variations character- 
ized the formation of Greek and Latin. Our language 
regulates and leads the thought; other languages permit it 
to deviate, to slide into the maze of emotions and to follow 
all the whims of poetic longing for mystic harmony. As 
such, other languages may be marvelous instruments for 
misty pronouncements of an oracle, which our tongue 
would not tolerate at all. Dependable, reasonable, and 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 20? 

sociable, our language is not any longer the French lan- 
guage, but is the language of mankind/' x 

Because of the inflexible logic of their tongue the French are 
particularly sensitive to the illogic of pther languages which 
are colored by emotional imagination./ ^u American guest at 
the court of Napoleon III, Mrs. Charles Foulton, "la belle 
Amfricaine" records the following complaint made by the 
Marquis de Galiffet in the course of a luncheon conversation, 
the subject of which was typically French the logic of lan- 
guages: 

"The Marquis told me that one day while traveling by 
train in England he stuck his head through the open win- 
dow the better to view the landscape, which had attracted 
his attention. A fellow-passenger called out to him, 'Look 
out!' The Marquis, translating this remark, logically, as 
an equivalent to regardez dehors (look outside) obediently 
protruded himself further through the window. 'Look 
out!' the Englishman repeated, with more impatience in 
his voice. Irritated, the Marquis replied: *I am already 
looking outside, as you can see! 9 'Look inside, then,' 
shouted the Englishman, pulling from the window the 
uncomprehending fellow-passenger. 'How do you expect 
me to learn such an illogical language?' concluded the 
Marquis." 2 

According to Voltaire, the French language has made more 
conquests for France than Charlemagne. It is still making 
friends for France among those who are familiar with the 
peculiar advantages of the French tongue, of which the pri- 

1 Rivarol, A. de, Memoire sur I'universalite de la langue jrangaise. 

2 "Une Americaine a la Cour de Napoleon III," Revue des Deux Mondes, 
15 mai 1935, pp. 402-403. 



208 THE FRENCH MIND 

mary is, perhaps, the high rationalistic art that it possesses and 
teaches, tte summarizing of multifarious and complex facts 
and ideas in a few words of imposing clarity and simplicity. 
This superb art has made France a kind of intellectual middle- 
man for the world. What Hippolyte Taine has said with re- 
gard to the art of La Bruyere is true of the standards of French 
literature in general: 

"His talent consists primarily in his ability to attract at- 
tention. His originality consists in the power of marking 
with an indelible impress whatever he touches. When he 
says but common verities, you will never forget them 
again, once you have heard him say them. His style is 
irresistible, like the hand of a strong man who seizes a 
passer-by by the collar; he makes people listen to him, 
forgetting their business and their pleasures." x 

THE RATIONALISTIC SOCIABILITY 

Even a brief study of the nature of French rationalism would 
be incomplete without an analysis of the French genius for 
sociability. It is said that one of the surest ways of knowing 
a man is to watch with whom he associates and how willingly. 
Let us consider, then, however briefly, what peculiarities the 
French show in the fundamental companionships of everyday 
life, (a) with nature and (b) with living beings, in particular 
their f ellowmen. 

The French attitude toward nature is clearly different from 
the Germanic fraternization and communion with the over- 
soul; the French are much less inclined to seek God in and 
through nature. The unforeseeable in nature inspires the ra- 
tionalist not with awe, but with distrust; it arouses in him a 

1 Taine, H., Essais de critique et d'histoire, Paris, Hachette, 1904, p. 12. 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 20p 

desire to control and subdue the forces of nature the resist- 
ance of will rather than the humility of worship. 

The rationalist believes that to become a worthy environ- 
ment for man nature must be tamed (apprivoiste) ; it must be 
corrected with the help of the light of reason, as the country- 
side near Paris has been made over into the geometrically ar- 
ranged parks of Versailles, Vincennes, and St. Cloud. The 
Frenchman admires nature under control, a compliant instru- 
ment. He yields 'to no man in his admiration for her civil 
aspects and is inclined to believe with Pascal that man was lost 
and saved in a garden. On the other hand, the uncontrollable 
cosmic forces repel the rationalist. Thus Voltaire wrote of the 
Lisbon earthquake of 1755: "We do not know anything about 
nature and must fear everything. In vain do we interrogate 
nature. Nature is dumb. . . ." Renan in the same spirit re- 
marks in his Recollections: "The natural tree does not bear 
good fruit. The fruit is not good until the tree is trained." 

Montesquieu, recording in his Voyages a journey through 
the Tyrol, complains: 

"On the whole the scenery here is a sorry sight: moun- 
tains covered with snow and for the most part sterile. . . . 
One moves between two rocky walls; one can see but a 
small piece of sky above, and this last exasperatingly nar- 
row. It is here that I have found the solution of the riddle 
coined by Vergil: 

'Die, quibus in tenis, et ens rnihi magnus Apollo, 
Tres patcat Coeli spatium non amplius ulnas.' " 1 

Queen Marie of Poland, the daughter of Louis XV, describes 
Plombieres in the Vosges as a country on the whole very un- 

1 Montesquieu, Voyages (Collection Bordelaise), Bordeaux, G. Gounouil- 
hou, 1896, t. II, pp. I34 137- 



210 THE FRENCH MIND 

even and disagreeable to see. She found the Pyrenees "very 
much like the inferno except that at Cauterets one freezes to 
death." Bagnres and Bareges, she writes, "are two hideous 
localities lost among the horrible ravine." 

Again Voltaire, while building his residence at Ferney at the 
foot of the Jura, wrote Argental that the country was delight- 
ful, "if one does not turn one's gaze in the direction of the ice- 
covered mountains." Madame de Stael, though influenced by 
Schelling's Naturphilosophie, never really shared in his adora- 
tion of nature. A rationalistic individualist, Madame de Stael 
could not faithfully subscribe to Schelling's pantheistic apothe- 
osis of nature as "the holy and eternally creative, aboriginal 
force of the universe"; neither could she truly hail Schelling's 
idea of abstract immortality, the immortality through the dis- 
solution of the individual soul in the "world soul." * 

In the Chanson de Roland no description is given of the 
impressive Pyrenean landscape, though this would have been 
a worthy setting for the story of the heroic death of Roland; 
the rationalistic bard, "a true Frenchman, wa's interested in 
man only." 2 The same trait is exhibited by the French chron- 
iclers of the World War. They seldom refer to nature except 
in the most matter-of-fact connections. Marshal Joffre makes 
the barest mention of natural forces, as when he writes of the 
retreat to the Marne: "It was terribly hot and we thought how 
hard it must be on our soldiers." 3 The celebrated French 
aviator, young Captain Georges Guynemer, showed the same 
restraint. In the two hundred letters from the front, recently 
published by his family, he made the single observation, "Splen- 



Baker, G. M., "Madame de StaeTs Attitude Toward Nature," 
Sewanee Review, January, 1931, p. 62. 
2 Lanson, G., Histoire de la litterature jrangaise, cit. t p. 30, 
8 Joffre, J., Memoires, Paris, Plon, 1932, t. I, p. 360. 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 211 

did view !" * General Dubail in his three-volume work, Quatre 
Annees de Commandement 1914-1918, makes no references to 
nature beyond the barest mention of weather conditions: 

"At half past twelve I went to fort Gironville, where I 
found General Joffre, The mist was so dense that I could 
not show him the part of my lines which are perfectly 
visible in good weather. Artillery droned without the 
slightest possibility for us to perceive the trend of the 
.battle." 2 

The rationalist has no feeling of companionship for uncor- 
rected, untamed nature, which presents many phenomena un- 
reasonable and undesirable from the rational point of view. 
He is convinced that civilization consists primarily in correct- 
ing nature and that it came into being and has been develop- 
ing thanks only to man's power of invention and organization. 
Small wonder, then, that the French nation has led in correct- 
ing and beautifying, that is to say ennobling, many important 
functions of man's daily life, notably, eating and dressing. 

It is this rationalistic tendency to control and correct nature 
that has made the French the inventors of manners, above all 
of table manners; in other words, certain forms of control 
bearing upon some of those original tendencies which we have 
in common with the lower animals. It is not a mere hedonistic 
foible, but also a rationalistic desire for triumph over raw na- 
ture, that has made France the classical land of good eating 
and suave drinking. The secret of her art is inventive imagina- 
tion, and above all, taste a sense of measure and a long search 
for gustatory harmonies. Willa Gather has drawn a delightful 

1 Bordeaux, H., "Le Chevalier de Pair: George Guynemer," Revue des 
Deux Mondes, i w mars 1918, pp. 542-579- 

2 Paris, Fournier, 1920-21, t I, p. 169. 



212 THE FRENCH MIND 

picture of two French missionaries, who, living in the wilder- 
ness of a foreign land, recapture the fine flavor of French 
civilization in a Christmas dinner. Her good bishop salutes 
the traditional onion soup, so richly French in its smooth com- 
plexity, with pious thanksgiving: 

"When one thinks of it, a soup like this is not the work 
of one man. It is the result of a constantly refined tradi- 
tion. There are nearly a thousand years of history in this 
soup." 1 

Inventors of particularly savory, wholesome plats or shall 
we say composers of charmingly haunting dietetic rhapso- 
dies? are honored in France, when known, by the apposition 
of their last name to that of the dish, on the menu of all self- 
respecting restaurants. When the name of the inventor is un- 
known, the locality which produced the plat, because it had 
produced the inventor, is similarly honored, e.g., bouillabaisse 
marseillaise, tripes & la mode de Caen. His proud and grateful 
fellow-villagers recently dedicated a monument to Perrin 
Lamothe of Velaines-en-Barrois, the discoverer of red currant 
jelly, whose talent had led him to solidify the evanescent tart- 
ness of the red-currant-on-the-bush into the familiar invitingly 
tremulous ruby substance which ennobles, the world over, the 
wild duck and adds the superior degree of tang and elegance 
to the turkey herself. 

The sense of measure characteristic of the cuisine franfaise, 
it may be observed in passing, is partly responsible for the high 
average longevity of the French, as well as for the relatively 
small percentage of stomach diseases in France. The same 

1 Gather, W., Death Comes for the Archbishop, New York, Alfred A. 
Knopf, 1927, p. 38. 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 213 

sense of measure controls drinking. Aversion to strong alco- 
holic beverages and moderation in the consumption of even 
light wines is an established French tradition. Popular taste 
condemns intoxication. Drunkenness, transforming a person 
into an unreasonable creature, is as repulsive to rationalistic 
good taste as it is to the puritanic sense of sin. 
j It is said that Talleyrand once had as his guest a young man 
still lacking in savoir-faire.^ A fine wine was served with all 
the ritual prescribed by custom. The young man, eager to 
show appreciation of the majestic beverage, emptied his glass, 
and immediately saw by the almost imperceptible shadow on 
the face of his host that he had committed a blunder. The 
intimacy of the occasion permitted the young man to ask for 
enlightenment, and Talleyrand is said to have replied: "A wine 
like this must first be looked at, then smelled, then tasted, then 
talked about, and only after that slowly consumed." * French 
policemen who have to deal with quantitative rather than 
qualitative transgressions of good taste in drinking, usually 
treat such cases with severity born of the rationalistic con- 
tempt for the offense an attitude very much at variance with 
the ordinarily lenient and paternal handling of other minor 
offenses. 

/The attention, then, which the French give to cooking and 
to the fine art of drinking at home and abroad, under all cir- 
cumstances, sad or gay, is not purely hedonistic./ The rational- 
istic belief in the civilizing influence of a good table has played 
a part in the French emphasis on the pleasures of eating and 
drinking. With this in mind it is easier to understand M. Ray- 
mond Poincare, who mentions in connection with his first visit 

1 C. Lacour-Gayet, G., Talleyrand, Paris, Payot, 1930, t. Ill, p. 325. 

NM-I5 



214 THE FRENCH MIND 

to the headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief, General 
Joffre, during the tense second week of October, 1914: "Next 
we accompanied the General to the little house in which he 
lived, where luncheon was served us. Its Spartan sobriety did 
not exclude culinary excellency." 1 Professor Jules Legras, a 
French liaison officer at the Russian headquarters, commenting 
favorably in his Souvenirs sur la Russie en Guerre upon the 
"surprising simplicity" pervading the military headquarters of 
the Czar, says: "The officers messed together without distinc- 
tion of rank, several being invited daily, in rotation, to the 
table of the Emperor, which was charming because of the 
social ease that the Emperor heartily encouraged," He adds, 
however: "The Emperor's table was not of a very high qual- 
ity." When Ivar Kreuger, the international financial wizard 
of ephemeral glory, committed suicide in his Paris apartment, 
the reporter of Le Temps took occasion to point out in the 
obituary notice that the ruined financier had cultivated neither 
cuisine (kitchen) nor cave (cellar). The remark left the im- 
pression that the worst might well have been expected from so 
uncultivated a man. 

The Marquise de Foucault, a courageous and able French 
woman who clung to her estate in the war zone to the last day 
possible, seldom forgot to mention in her diary the menu, even 
on the most poignant days of the war. Thus, on March 30, 
1918, at the height of the Ludendorflf mass attack, the Mar- 
quise, together with her household and as many Staff officers 
and soldiers stationed at the chateau as could get away from 
the grim business of war, went to the Easter service. Having 
described in moving terms the mass that celebrated in the 
midst of carnage the Resurrection of the Savior, Madame' de 
Foucault notes: 

1 Au service de la France, dt. t t. V, p. 356. 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 215 

"On returning, I hastily put on a black silk dress, very 
simple, and go to look after the fires ... the stove in the 
great dining-room burning well. I light the table in the 
middle and at the ends with a great lamp. Dinner menu: 
Pheasant soup, rabbit saute chasseur, fried potatoes, pre- 
served figs. Supplies have been short since the beginning 
of the battle." 

When in June, 1918, the Marquise was at length prevailed 
upon to move her valuables from the cMteau, she writes from 
a village just beyond the battle zone: 

"At the door of the large cafe aviators come and go. 
They have a camp near by. 

"My window on a very low first floor is just on the level 
with the seats of the drivers of convoys. Long processions 
of artillery. Soldiers shout Bonsoir to me very familiarly. 
All night the noise of the passing continues under my 
window. 

"Menu: Sorrel soup, eels and ray with black sauce; cauli- 
flower maitre d'h6tel; filet de pore with Madeira sauce, 
very good strawberries and cream." * 

M. Rene Chambe in a war reminiscence entitled "Those 
Who Have Not Come Back" (Ceux qui ne sont fas revenus) 
has given a graphic description of a French officers' mess on 
the Lorraine front in September, 1918. It was an aviation unit 
and the daily losses of the squadron were usually known by 
luncheon. The inflexible preservation of the traditional ameni- 
ties through the racking uncertainties of warfare is an impres- 
sive witness to the nobility of spirit which rationalism is capable 
of engendering: 

1 Ch&teau at the Front, Boston, 1931, pp. 229, 240, 318; used by permission 
of, and by special arrangement with, Houghton Mfflin Co. 



2l6 THE FRENCH MIND 

"The orderly in charge of the mess enters. He is obvi- 
ously frightened and dejected. He holds a piece of paper 
in his hand and he is looking for someone. The junior 
member of the mess must read the menu with due cere- 
mony and welcome the group to the table. Where is 
Lieutenant Colbert? He is not there; he is dead. Has 
the next youngest. Midshipman Grand, also fallen? . . . 
Who, then, is the youngest among those present? Some- 
one directs the orderly to the youngest member present 
He mechanically takes from the orderly the menu, and 
then suddenly turns pale. Silently, he rustles the paper 
with his fingers. He looks around and meets the eyes of 
the commanding officer; one must gather up his self- 
control and dominate his grief. Individuals pass away, 
but the tradition must be kept alive. The junior officer 
rises. The white sheet of paper scarcely trembles between 
his fingers. For the last time, his eyes turn to the com- 
manding officer for confirmation. The latter nods. Then, 
erect, standing at attention, the young lieutenant pro- 
nounces the ritualistic formula in a firm voice: 'Major, 
gentlemen! It is my privilege to read for you the menu 
of the day.' He reads and his voice betrays no trepidation. 
Next, with three short bows, he salutes first the Major, 
and then his comrades at the right and at the left, who all 
return the salute. Though his throat is contracted, he 
succeeds in concluding: 'Good appetite, Major! Good 
appetite, gentlemen!' At last he can sit down. Life con- 
tinues on its way." * 

The position of legislator of fashions held by Paris is to be 
understood also in the light of the rationalistic desire to control, 

1 Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 avril 1933, pp. 856 f. 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 217 

correct, and embellish nature. "Fashion in dress," Mile. An- 
toinette has well observed in Princess Bibesco's essay, Noblesse 
de robe, "saves us from fatigue by affording relaxation and rec- 
reation for the eye." The problem of fashion is the problem 
of creating a wide variety of harmonious forms developed from 
a basic motif, which is constantly renewed and modified. That 
problem is solved "by an elite of women in Paris who, as is the 
case of all other kinds of elite, are not numerous, their number 
being limited by the rarity of genius." The instruments of 
work a few pieces of cloth, scissors, pins, and the large 
wooden dolls are as simple as the art of design, the strict 
sense of harmony, and the will to succeed are great. These 
efforts and talents have given Paris the well-deserved position 
of unquestioned dictator of fashions for several centuries past. 
Princess Bibesco notes that a London museum counts among 
its treasures a collection of "French dolls of fashion." The 
catalogue states that the dolls were used to introduce French 
fashions into England about 1675. This was at the time of the 
great naval struggle between Louis XIV and William of Or- 
ange, yet every three months a vessel loaded with these little 
figurines would leave the French shores and the English Navy 
would receive an order to cease firing until it passed the danger 
zone. As soon as the ladies of fashion reached the coast, they 
were distributed throughout the kingdom, to capture the Eng- 
lish world of fashion without the firing of a shot. 1 

The average Frenchman shows in his everyday relationship 
with other living beings a disposition very much in harmony 
with his rationalistic attitude toward inanimate nature. 

Someone has said that women, cats, and elephants are the 
only animals with sense. Is it in view of the impracticability 
of attempting to surround himself with elephants that the 

1 Bibesco, Princess M. L., Noblesse de robe, Paris, Grasset, 1928, pp. 9-18. 



2l8 THE FRENCH MIND 

Frenchman shows so strong a preference for the cat, most 
luxurious, rationalistic, and least mystically inclined of the 
domestic animals, and that among his fellow-creatures his pref- 
erence is for women of intellect? Foreign tourists visiting 
Paris are often struck by the number of servants to be seen in 
the parks exercising cats. Cats were among Cardinal Riche- 
lieu's hobbies. 1 M. Poincare in his memoirs mentions more 
than once, during the harassing events of the summer and fall 
of 1914, his Siamese cat, "notre fidele siarnois" which accom- 
panied the President and his wife in the Bordeaux retreat of 
tjie Government. 2 

f 'As for women of intellect and their place in French national 
life, one illustration may suffice. French women, brilliant and 
totellectually ambitious, were responsible for the establishment 
of the salon, that powerful, social institution of the seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries/ The growth of the influence of the 
salon, as pictured, for example, by Charles Louis Livet in 
Preaeux t precieuses: chwactires ct moeurs du XVII* stick 
and in Portraits du grand s&cle, and by a series of studies on 
the illustrious women of the seventeenth century, 3 was marked 
from the beginning by the ascendancy of women of wit and 
acumen; their influence powerfully contributed to the polish- 
ing of both men of the pen and men of the sword. There the 

a Hanotaux, G., et Due de la Force, "Histoire de RichelieuIll. 
Entourage,". Revue des Deux Mondes, i er juillet 1934, p. 97. 

2 Poincare, R., op. cit., t. IV, p. 369; t. V, pp. 241 ff. 

3 Cousin, V., Madame de Longueville, Paris, Didier, 1859; Madame de 
Sable, Paris, Didier, 1865; Madame de Chevreuse, Paris, Didier, 1868; 
Madame de Haute jort, Paris, Didier, 1868. 

Cf. Tilby, A. W., "The Distribution of European Genius," The Nineteenth 
Century, July, 1936. The author has tabulated from the Encyclopedia 
Britannica the names of 4,252 "supermen" who have led European civiliza- 
tion for the last 2,500 years, and has grouped them into a series of com- 
parative lists. He finds in the entire catalogue of the great only 131 
women. France leads the Continental list with 53 names one woman to 
every 22 distinguished men. 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 2Ip 

art of conversation reached new levels of brilliancy and refine- 
ment, characterized by the appreciation of a well-turned 
phrase, by expressing truth with finesse and courtesy, by being 
sincere with grace, and by ability to give pleasure even while 
criticizing. The noblemen learned in the salon to respect 
commoners who were writers, philosophers, and scholars of 
distinction, and to fraternize with them. The Rambouillet 
mansion, for example, was open to all men of recognized 
talent, irrespective of pedigree; for entree good manners alone 
were requisite. 

What were the topics of conversation in a salon of the seven- 
teenth or eighteenth century? Everything under the sun was 
discussed literature, theater, war, politics, religion. At a 
dinner table and in a drawing room, presided over by an 
adroit and cultured hostess, the standards of literary, political, 
scientific, and artistic accomplishment were established, ideas 
were filtered and crystallized, and an unwritten Who's Who 
of the intellectuals was drawn up. Only an earnestly con- 
ducted enterprise can bring substantial results; the famous 
rationalistic women of France who made their salons a success 
possessed not only social charm and finesse, but the capacity 
for hard work as well. Among Madame de Genlis' remi- 
niscences is found an interesting sidelight on the celebrated 
Madame Necker's preparation for a social function: 

"The Marquis de Chastellux, invited to Madame 
Necker's, had arrived a trifle too early and was ushered 
into the drawing room where he found himself all alone. 
Walking up and down the room he noticed a small note- 
book on the floor, under the chair usually occupied by the 
hostess. The learned nobleman picked up the notebook 
and opened it. Seeing that it was covered with writing in 



220 THE FRENCH MIND 

Madame Necker's own hand, he began to read it, thinking 
that he might discover the lady's philosophical ideas. He 
would never have read it had it been a letter, but a philo- 
sophical disquisition one may read whether invited or 
not without any scruples. He discovered that the book- 
let contained a carefully laid out topical plan for the con- 
versation of the evening. Madame Necker had even 
written down the little flatteries bearing upon their works 
which she intended to offer to each of the luminaries 
invited." 1 

The rationalistic instinct for conversation and its civilizing 
influence has been institutionalized in France. Under the 
ancien regime it found expression in the salon and its far- 
reaching social, cultural, and political influences. Newer 
times have replaced the salon with the cafa where intellec- 
tuals of moderate means gather for an exchange of ideas. 
Rank outsiders are welcome to listen and to take part in the 
conversation. Some of the cafes of Paris have become centers 
of literary, philosophical, and political movements. For ex- 
ample, there is the Caff Procope, which numbered among its 
customers Descartes, Piron, Voltaire, and Crebillon, and in 
which Beauinarchais waited for the verdict on the first per- 
formance of The Marriage of Figaro. In the Caff de la 
Regence Voltaire presided, sipping his coffee; here Diderot 
conversed with his fellow encyclopedists; Franklin, Emperor 
Joseph II, Robespierre, and Napoleon Bonaparte frequented 
it. In numerous present-day caffs of the Quartier Latin 
probably more particularly the Caff de la Rotonde and Sous 
la Coupole students from all over the world are solving the 

1 Cf. Goncourt, E. et J., La femme au XVIII siecle, Paris, G. Charpentier, 
1882. * 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 221 

problems of the day over a cup of coffee or an inexpensive 
wine. In the early years of the twentieth century some Mont- 
martre and Montparnasse cafes were still genuine centers of 
artistic and literary movements. The rush of modern life and 
the sad increase of political discord in the literary cults have 
of late interfered with the purely artistic and literary influence 
of the cafe, but not, however, with its importance as the in- 
strument of rationalistic sociability, and the home of free, 
varied conversation: 

"Montmartre and Montparnasse are now only shadows 
of what they were; the Boulevards, too, have lost much 
of their character. Voisin's, for instance, is no more. 
This does not mean that the literary cafe does not exist, 
but that it is hard to find, and its atmosphere has changed. 
. . . But the c#f6, literary or social, remains fundamentally 
the same. It is seemingly eternal, and for good reason: 
*A man can find everything in a caff, even happiness.' " x 

In a recent essay on the literary cafes, the purpose and signi- 
ficance of this peculiarly French institution were aptly defined 
in the following words: 

"Removing the reserve and estrangement between citi- 
zens which result from differences of age and social status 
and which are observed in all other forms of social inter- 
course, and transforming the mere establishments which 
sell refreshments into nurseries of friendship such are the 
precious contributions of literary cafts . . . 

"Now, when the raised fist is being substituted for the 
outstretched hand, and syndicates of hatred throw to the 

1 Wilson, N. S., "The Literary Cafes of Paris," The Fortnightly (London), 
March, 1936, p. 361. 



222 THE FRENCH MIND 

winds cordial ententes, what is going to happen to the lit- 
erary cafe? It would be a great loss if it should vanish." * 

The sociability of the rationalist naturally expands in con- 
versation. To say it in the words of Taine: 

"The Frenchman likes, by instinct, to be in company, 
and the reason is that he is well at his ease there. He 
performs without effort or embarrassment the actions im- 
plied in social intercourse. He is free from the painful 
shyness of his northern neighbor as he is free from the 
boiling passion of his southern neighbor. He does not 
have to make an eff ort to talk, and in his case, there is no 
natural bashfulness to overcome. As a result, he talks 
with ease and enjoys conversation. His conception of a 
good time leads him to seek something fine, light, lively, 
incessantly renewed and varied, something that can, at 
one and the same time, stimulate his intellect, tickle his 
vanity, and exercise the rest of his lovable, sprightly ca- 
pacities. This he finds only in social intercourse; there- 
fore conversation is his favorite pastime. A very sensitive 
creature, the attentions and the delicate flattery con- 
comitant with good company are to the Frenchman the 
atmosphere in which he breathes his lightest. ... In such 
a company one can talk freely, because conversation is 
the means of amusing other people while amusing one- 
self, and there is no greater pleasure for a Frenchman. 
A vivid and sinuous conversation is to the Frenchman 
what flight is to the bird. Naturally alert and stimulated 
by the impetus of his interlocutors, he slides from one 
idea to another, traveling by jumps and circuits, with un- 

1 Delorme, H., "Souvenirs des cafes litteraires," Revue des Deux Mondes, 
15 novembre 1936, p. 382. 



FRENCH RATIONALISM 223 

expected returns, now soaring high and now almost scrap- 
ing the ground, changing his position from the highest 
peaks to the deepest hollows; but never falling into holes 
nor getting caught in the undergrowth, never asking of 
the thousand and one subjects he touches in his conversa- 
tion anything else but to show him and his interlocutors 
the gay variety of their appearance." 1 

John Stuart Mill recalled with much pleasure the winter at 
the University of Montpellier which introduced him to "the 
frank sociability and amiability of French intercourse," and 
the great amenity which this sociability lent to his daily life. 
The French character proved "a surprise to him . . . Logical 
and analytical enough to satisfy even the demands of his own 
culture, it had also a beauty and grace which were neglected 
in the Englishmen he knew." 2 Taine well describes the 
general tone of French conversation, such as Mill doubtless 
enjoyed at Montpellier and which he missed in England: 

"So far as I can judge, the English do not know how to 
amuse themselves by means of conversation. A French- 
man accounts the happiest moment of his life the period 
after supper in the private society of well-educated and 
intelligent men. The brains of all present are then in a 
state of agitation and effervescence. They converse and 
think in unison about the most exalted subjects, skipping 
from one to another in short, pithy phrases, and their 
general ideas, briskly launched, flutter like a swarm of 
insects. In the space of two hours the untrammelled talk 

1 Taine, H., Les Origines de la France contemporaine: L'ancien regime, 
Paris, Hachette, 1876, t. I, pp. 160 f. 

2 Mill, J. S., Autobiography, The World's Classics, New York, Oxford 
University Press, 1924, pp. 40 E.; Neff, E., Carlyle and Mill, New York, 
Columbia University Press, 1926, p. 232. 



224 THE -FRENCH MIND 

has made the tour of the globe. Each one contributes a 
condensation of his thoughts in a jesting or serious style, 
with exaggeration, a dash of paradox and play of fancy, 
without meaning his sallies to be literally interpreted, 
and seeking nothing more than a happy relaxation of the 
mind. Philosophy, science, morals, art, literature, all the 
treasures of the human intellect, are then handled, not in 
heavy ingots, or in cumbersome sacks, but in pretty, 
portable coins, beautifully engraved and sparkling and 
jingling with a cheerful clink, as they are lightly manipu- 
lated by delicate fingers. It seems to me that these coins 
are rare in England, and that, in addition, they are not 
current. They are regarded as too thin; their alloy gives 
rise to suspicions. Far more readiness is shown in han- 
dling the rough and ponderous metal of which I have 
already spoken. The conversation indulged in is chiefly 
instructive; most frequently there is no conversation at all. 
Several inconveniences arise from this, and tedium is one 
of them; the mind wants entertainment." 1 

Having now sketched the nature of French rationalism and 
its instruments, let us turn to the study of the problem that 
interests us above all, how this key-characteristic of the French 
national psychology, rationalism, influences the behavior of 
the Frenchman as a political being. In such an investigation 
one is, again, greatly assisted by the French love of analysis 
that sort of "mental chemistry," as Taine called it, which 
singles out and reduces to revealing simplicity the component 
elements of a complex psychological body. The French, may 
it be reiterated, willingly analyze themselves, as individuals 
and as a nation, with a high degree of detachment. 

1 Notes on England, New York, Henry Holt and Co., 1876, pp. 321 . 



Chapter V 



THE RATIONALIST AS A POLITICAL BEING 



ELOQUENCE IN PUBLIC LIFE 

THE French, as a nation, have not escaped the nets of the 
designer of evil who, to repeat again Defoe's phrase, "matches 
proper sins for every nation." 

^The French passion for the "right word" (juste mot) is re- 
flected in the national fondness for definition./ Even writers 
of fiction interrupt their stories to flourish a definition which 
is, of course, an excellent mental habit when practiced in mod- 
eration. Thus a writer relating a gripping war story stops at 
a poignant moment to define the brutality of death as "sudden 
incommunicability." A general of the World War lays a sec- 
ond claim to national consideration by defining the ideal head- 
quarters of an army as "a remote centrality," and Captain 
Georges Guynemer coined the happy definition: "My aero- 
plane is but a flying machine gun." r 

M. Paul Val&y, eulogizing Marshal Petain on the occasion 
of the distinguished soldier's reception by the French Acad- 
emy, while he praised the military talents and civic virtues 
of the savior of Verdun, did not forget to compliment the 
Marshal on the ability to crystallize his military thought in 
felicitous and instructive formulas: 

i Bordeaux, H., "Le chevalier de Pair," Revue des Deux Mondes, i<* mars 
1918, p. 61. 



226 THE FRENCH MIND 

"You have the power of summing up your thought in 
gripping formulas, such as: The offensive is an advanc- 
ing fire, while the defensive is a stopping fire'; 'the cannon 
conquers, the infantry occupies a ground.' " * 

On the other hand, as is natural for a rationalist, the French- 
man is little given to the cultivation of inward experiences, to 
mystic or semi-mystic brooding and speculation, which can 
fill, agreeably, many an hour of the German's leisure. The 
Frenchman delights in conversation, not only because he seeks 
exercise for the instruments of reason thinking and speech 
nor simply because he enjoys the play of wit and verbal finesse, 
but also because he craves a tangible and yet subtle form of 
externalization to occupy his leisure moments. In public life, 
the Frenchman is intrigued by eloquence and falls an easy 
prey to subtle, elegant oratory; his reasoning power and his 
rigid logic can be seriously weakened under the spell of a 
brilliant discovers. And though it is true that no one can fool 
all the people all the time, fooling a substantial number of the 
people at the psychological moment of a general election, 
throws the door open to political agitation, against which her 
vctry rationalism disarms France at times. 

The Frenchman's fondness for rhetoric manifests itself 
variously in public lifp;''* Parisian newspapers announced, for 
instance, at the opening of the theatrical season in October, 
1929, that the Minister of Public Instruction and Fine Arts 
had issued a decree re-establishing the lectures at the Odeon, 
a State dramatic theater. These lectures on French literature, 
given by distinguished critics before each performance, had 
been in abeyance since the World War. "The Parisian pub- 

1 "Reponse au remerciement du Marechal Petain, discours prononce le 
22 Janvier 1931," Qeuvres completes, Editions de la N. R. F., Paris, s. d. f 
t. 5, p. 57. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 227 

lie," explained Le Temps? "demanded its ration of eloquence." 
Moliere has well described this rationalistic longing in the 
dialogue of Mercury and Sosie. 



"'What is your destiny, tell me?' 
It is to be man and to speak.' " 



,. 9 2 



Henri Frederic Amiel, the outstanding Swiss student of 
French literature, observed that French tragedy seems to be 
designed to make action merely a suitable occasion for fervid 
oratory, by extracting elaborate discourses from the char- 
acters. "What is really curious and amusing," remarks Amiel, 
"is that the liveliest, gayest, and wittiest of peoples should al- 
ways have understood the grand style in the most formal and 
pompous fashion." The rationalistic craving for externaliza- 
tion, tends to make the French drama, in the words of Amiel, 
"an oratorical tournament." 8 

"When the Frenchman speaks of talent without any further 
qualifications, he means the talent for speaking, "this mixture 
of intelligence, sensitivity, and imagination which makes one's 
speech vivid, warm, gripping, sharp in relief."/" As a result, 
French government and French administration of justice are 
in a large degree subject to rhetoric, alas! not always of 
beneficent purpose or effect. It is rightly said that oratory is 
in France what games and sports are in England. The French- 
man is addicted to rhetoric; 5 on the slightest provocation he 

1 24 octobre 1929. 

2 Amphitrion, Acte l t Scene 2. 

8 Amiel, H. R, The Intimate Journal, New York, The Macmillan Com- 
pany, 1935, p. 171. 

* Arnould, L., "Le Professeur de Faculte," Revue des Deux Mondes, i w 
juin 1935, pp. 629 

5 M. Andre Tardieu, in his recent searching study of the organic weaknesses 
of the French political institutions quotes Bismarck's observation: *Tou can 
easily enough administer 25 strokes of cane to a Frenchman, provided that 



228 THE FRENCH MIND 

launches upon the discourse so happily exploited in French 
comedy, and as a juryman or a voter he cannot resist eloquent 
speech. A really eloquent lawyer is assured of excellent earn- 
ings and an eloquent senator or member of the Chamber of 
Deputies, short of having committed a grave misdemeanor, 
can be sure of re-election by one constituency or another, or 
even by several constituencies at one and the same time, each 
proud of connecting its name with that of a political celebrity. 
France is the country where the life of a cabinet not infre- 
quently hangs upon parliamentary oratory. The late M. 
Clemenceau has repeatedly employed this dangerous recourse, 
to win for himself the redoubtable name of tiger and wrecker 
of cabinets. More than once his brilliant oratory succeeded 
in wrecking a cabinet on a comparatively secondary issue. 

In most countries the finished politician rates personal ap- 
pearance as a considerable factor in the matter of public ap- 
peal; he "dresses up" or "dresses down" to his audience. In 
France the politician can limit himself to cultivating his ora- 
tory. Prince von Biilow, while German ambassador in France, 
wrote in his diary: 

"Gambetta's . . . appearance was strikingly neglectful. 
His evening dress was poorly cut, his shirt puffed out of 
the waistcoat, his tie was crisscross. This would have 
hurt him in England, where considerable importance is 
attached to a man's appearance, so that Disraeli predicted 
a splendid career to a new M.P. on the ground that he 
'wore his monocle like a gentleman.' The French do not 
pay much attention to the looks of a man, but so much 
the more are they attracted by his oratorical talent. The 



you make at the same time a beau discours on human liberty and dignity." 
(La Revolution a refaire; Le Souverain captif, Paris, Flammarion, 1936, 
p. 275.) 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 

Germans are indifferent to both, but rate a public man on 
the ground of his moral solidity and his philosophical at- 
titude." 1 

When in January, 1912, M. Raymond Poincare tried to per- 
suade his friend M. L6on Bourgeois, a well-poised, capable, 
and experienced senator, to accept the office of Prime Min- 
ister, M. Bourgeois declined, because he knew his limitations 
as an orator: 

" 'No, no,' he repeated, 'I know my limitations. I am 
not good enough as an orator to fulfil properly the role 
of the head of the government before a Chamber that is 
far from quiet.' " 2 

The outbreak of the World War found the office of Prime 
Minister occupied by M. Ren Viviani, who was M. Poincare's 
companion on the state visit to Russia in July, 1914, of which 
the late President of the Republic writes: 

"Off and on M. Viviani and myself have had conversa- 
tions on the deck of the cruiser La France, in which litera- 
ture alternated with politics and diplomacy. My inter- 
locutor, who has an amazing memory, knows by heart 
whole pages of prose and poetry, and in particular long 
passages from great orations, with which he nourishes 
his own eloquence:" 8 

One of the most accomplished orators ever heard by a French 
political assembly, M. Viviani owed his elevation to the post 
of Prime Minister not in small measure to his oratorical gifts. 
He proved, however, hardly adequate as leader of the nation, 

1 "M. de Biilow a Paris," Revue de Paris, 15 juin 1931, p. 777. 

2 Poincare, R., Au service de la France, Paris, Plon, 1926-1933, t. I, p. 15. 
*lbid., t. IV, p. 225. 

NM-l6 



230 THE FRENCH MIND 

when the exigencies of the war demanded speedy, determined, 
and fruitful action. 1 Viviani's more or less silver-tongued suc- 
cessors, Briand, Millerand, Ribot, Painleve were tried in turn 
and order and found wanting; they were not doers. True, 
France has always found among her eloquent public men those 
who were also able men of action, such as Thiers, Gambetta, 
Waldeck-Rousseau, Clemenceau, and Poincare. She has sur- 
vived misgovernment at the hands of her nightingales of the 
rostrum, but she has paid a heavy price. 

THE WITCHERY OF FORMULAS 

ihe French are inclined, as might be expected from ration- 
alists, to all the excesses of Cartesianism/ '(Its p$ch6s du 
cwt&ianisme). One of these is the exaggerated belief, on the 
part of the masses, in the power of leaders to solve intricate 
problems of social life by a simple rationalistic formula, by 
some political credo, possessing the deceptive appearance of 
quasi-mathematical neatness and exactitude. Thus the cele- 
brated triad "Equality, liberty, fraternity" (tgditf, liberti, 
fraternit), because of its deceptive simplicity and clarity, has 
served to perpetuate the social unrest for which it was de- 
signed as the universal panacea. Omitting fraternitfthat 
grotesque production of the cruel hysteria and demagogy of 
die Revolution the Frenchman's conception of liberty and 
equality has an absolutistic leaning. He has a tendency to de- 
mand for himself or for his group unqualified liberty and 

1 M. Henri Leyret, relating in "Delcasse parle . . ." Revue des Deux 
Mondes, 15 septembre 1937, the fall of Viviani's cabinet in October, 1915, 
states: "Because of lack of character and an excessive confidence in his 
rhetorical powers and in his star, which, he imagined, eclipsed those of the 
heavens, M. Viviani fell." 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 23! 

equality. The rights of other individuals and social groups 
are apt to be overlooked in the rationalistic excitement over 
the mathematical-looking political formula. 1 

An ancient writer described the Gauls as passionate for two 
things, warfare and subtle speech. 2 Of these two Gallic pas- 
sions, the first, though inherited by the French, has certainly 
been corrected to the vanishing point by the experience of 
centuries. The French have achieved military glory more 
than once in the course of their history, but they have come 
to see the ruinous cost and the instability of that glory. The 
self-restraint shown by the French nation after the World 
War in her reluctance to display military force as an answer 
to manifestations of unfriendliness on the part of Germany, 
even when Germany's military strength was still quite re- 
stricted, prior to the re-establishment of the conscript army 
by Hitler in March-May 1935, clearly attests to the distance 
created, by the passage of years, between the France of Louis 
XIV and Napoleon, and the contemporary bourgeois Third 
Republic. On the other hand, the Frenchman's rationalistic, 
his almost superstitious, belief in the efficacy of formulas and 
his weakness for verbal subtleties are exhibited even at the 
battle front. 

M. Jean Pierref eu, the able and frank private annalist of the 
French Great General Headquarters has more than once re- 
marked that to make a success on the general staff one must 
display the gift of casuistic argumentation and oratory at staff 
meetings. While all belligerents of necessity resort to coloring 

1 Cf. Faure, E., The Spirit of the Forms, New York, Harper & Brothers, 
1930, p. 1 80. 

2 Duas res industrissime persequitur gens Gdlorum, rem rmlttarem et 
argute loqui. Cato in Hist. rom. frg. f 34. 



**y, THE FRENCH MIND 

unwelcome news, any impartial student of the World War 
communiques would award the French the palm for euphem- 
istic elegancies. At the beginning of the German attack on 
Verdun, for which the French High Command was poorly 
prepared, the initial shock of the rapid capture of forts reputed 
impregnable was soon followed by the evacuation of Woevre, 
a strategic position of great importance on the right bank of 
the Meuse. The breaking to the French nation of this sad 
news is described in the following terms by M. Jean Pierrefeu, 
a journalist attached to the General Headquarters, whose task 
it was to prepare drafts of the communiques for the approval 
of the Commander-in-Chief or the Chief of Staff: 

"This retreat was announced to the public in subtle and 
elegant terms. The version suggested by the Third Sec- 
tion [the Section of Operations] showed me once again 
that good military education must comprise an advanced 
training in casuistry. One of the officers of the Third 
Section, Major F., whom I always regarded as particularly 
able, proposed this formula: The advanced lines which 
we had kept at Woevre since the operations of the last 
year and which had been employed as observation posts, 
were now moved closer to the high bank of the Meuse for 
reasons of a military nature.' Accustomed though I was, 
from professional experience, to the play of euphemisms, 
I could not help admiring the skill of this dressing of a 
terrible piece of news a dressing that was calculated to 
satisfy the logical trend of mind of the Frenchman, who 
would not be shocked at a communiqut provided that it 
had the appearance of fully explaining to him the situa- 
tion. The formula was, however, slightly modified in the 
final version in which, to my regret, the fascinating phrase, 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 233 

'for reasons of a military nature,' was replaced with 'by 
order of the High Command.' " * 

What is particularly interesting is that the high priests of 
the general staff employed the same subtle rhetorical dressing 
in announcing sad events to yet higher priests of the military 
hierarchy. Thus, the Staff of the Second Army, commanded 
by General Castelnau, who had almost lost the city and the 
fortified region of Nancy in August, was, in October, 1914, 
on the point of losing Lille. While he was supposed to be 
launching an attack between the Oise and the Somme, this 
general was actually ceding ground instead of advancing. 
The General, a very brilliant military raisonncur, however 
inapt on the field of battle, telephoned this casuistic report to 
the Commander-in-Chief : 

"Nothing new last night. Fouquescourt was evacuated 
because bulging. No changes in the north." 

To which General Joffre made the stinging reply that for the 
third time the Second Army "had rectified the front by re- 
treat." 2 At the end of January, 1915, Joffre undertook an 
operation against the Germans into Champagne, in which 
the principal role fell to the Fourth Army, commanded by 
General de Langle. The operation was unsuccessful; no ter- 
ritory was gained from the Germans, but some was lost when 
the Germans retaliated by a counter-attack. General de 
Langle in his elegantly written report to Joffre blamed the 
failure on bad weather and the poor condition of the roads. 
Joffre's well-justified repartee was: "If it rained on our side 
of the trenches, it rained also on the enemy's." 8 

iPierrefeu, J., G.Q.G., Paris, Cres, 1933, t. I, p. 128. 
2 Joffre, J., Memoires, Paris, Plon, 1932, t. I, pp. 450 . 
., t. II, p. 58. 



234 THE FRENCH MIND 

It should be noted, however, that the orders of the day were 
written in terms of utmost simplicity and with a complete 
suppression of all casuistry as well as of the Napoleonic ora- 
tory. Thus General Joffre's order for the battle of the Marne 
runs as follows: 

"At the moment when the battle begins, upon the issue 
of which depends the fate of the country, I wish to remind 
each and every one that there must be no retreat. No 
effort must be spared to push the enemy back. If a de- 
tachment should be unable to advance, it must hold the 
terrain at all costs and let itself be killed on the spot rather 
than retreat. Under the conditions of this moment no 
f aintness can be tolerated." x 

It remains true that the "manner of presenting things" plays 
a great part in French life. According to a typical anecdote, 
the mother of five-year-old Pierre had just told the boy a 
fairy tale. "And you, mother," Pierre inquires, "do you like 
to hear fairy tales ?"-"Yes, my darling."-"Good, I will tell 
you one! It is very short. Once upon a time there was a jug, 
and I broke it." It is recorded that the ingenious Pierre was 
forgiven. The enfants tcrribles of French politics understand 
the nation's weakness only too well and exploit it through the 
medium of slogans and impassioned rhetoric; they have de- 
veloped a high degree of skill in "presenting things." Honor- 
able public men are also forced to take recourse in slogans 
and formulas. Many political formulas and slogans, well- 
meant and otherwise, have left a profound impress, positive 
or negative, on the history of modern France. 

The great triad of the Revolution, "Equality, liberty, frater- 
nity," was seconded by the celebrated pamphlet of Sieyes, 

1 Joffre, J., Memoires, Paris, Plon, 1932, t. I, pp. 394 . 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 235 

with an inciting title cast in triple formula: "What is the Third 
Estate? Everything. What part has it in Government? 
Nothing. What does it want? . To become something." On 
December 3, 1792, Robespierre declared: "Louis must die in 
order that the Republic may live." As France remained hesi- 
tant, Barrere de Vieuzac thundered a new incitement: "The 
tree of liberty will not grow unless watered with the blood 
of kings!" Chamfort contributed the formula justifying the 
Reign of Terror a slogan later to be used by the Bolshevists: 
"Peace to hamlets, war on castles and palaces!" 

Napoleon I, who was himself a past master at coining 
slogans and formulas, became in turn the victim of a phrase, 
when Talleyrand celebrated Napoleon's defeat in Russia as 
"the beginning of the end " To reconcile the public to the 
restoration of the unpopular Bourbons in the person of the 
exiled Louis XVIII, the royalists coined the slogan: "Nothing 
is changed in France; there is only one Frenchman the more." 
To this formula the Bonapartists replied by striking a medal 
to celebrate the arrival of the first giraffe in Paris, which was 
coincident to the restoration of the Bourbons, countering with 
the legend: "Nothing is altered in France; there is only one 
beast the more." Napoleon III was materially helped in his 
accession to the throne and the establishment of the Second 
Empire on the ruins of the short-lived Second Republic by the 
slogan, "The Empire, it is peace," a fallacious promise but one 
which went right to the heart of the conservative middle-class 
Frenchman. 

Pierre Joseph Proudhon, the socialist and the founder of the 
theory of anarchism, promoted the cause of communism in 
France with his formula, "Property is theft," which was a 
modification of the more moderate formula of the Girondist 
Brissot, "An exclusive property is a theft from nature." The 



236 THE FRENCH MIND 

French communistic regime of 1871, like its more lasting 
progeny, the Bolshevist regime in Russia, profited by this 
slogan; but, on the other hand, the red flag of the Paris Com- 
mune was the target of Lamartine's slogan: "The tricolor has 
been round the world; the red flag has only been round the 
Champ de Mars." Thiers contributed to the stabilization of 
the Third Republic the formula: "The republican form of 
government is the one that divides us least." Gambetta's 
political success was nourished in no small degree by his 
demagogic catchword, "Clericalism; that is the^nemy." Much 
grist has been brought to the political mills of the present-day 
Radical Socialist party by such pronouncements as these: 

"Radicalism is a doctrine which takes science as a guide 
and morals as the goal" 

"With us, politics is the art of serving men and not of 
exploiting them." 

"Our basis is scientific observation, our goal is moral 
good. Between these poles we evolutionize." 

"Our rule is, march forward, understand, and act." * 

Among recent political formulas should be mentioned M. 
Poincare's, "Security^ arbitration, disarmament," which has 
served to crystallize the post-war international policy of France 
on the basis of reliable guarantees of security and arbitration. 
This convincing formula has effectively prearmed the French 
public against the visionary or dishonest propaganda of pseudo- 
pacifists, who would sacrifice the national defense of France 
to the perilous mirage of international peace without solid 
guarantees. 3 

1 Fels, Comte de, "Lettre a un futur President du Conseil," Revue de 
Paris, 15 Janvier 1934, pp. 241-254. 

2 See also the discussion of the role of eloquence, in particular of formulas 
and slogans, in private and public life of the French in Wechsler, E., Esprit 
und Geist, Verlag von Velhagen & Klasing, Leipzig, 1927, SS. 360 ff ., 540 ff. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 237 

The liking for neat, mathematical-looking formulas of 
conduct is not confined to politics/ French philosophers also 
seek firm ground in a formula. Thus Descartes summed up 
the basis of his metaphysics of existence in the celebrated 
epigram, "I think, consequently I exist"; Maine de Biran chose 
the formula, "I will, consequently I exist"; the substance of 
Bergson's metaphysics is the thought, "I am capable of intui- 
tion, consequently I exist." Small wonder then that a young 
philosopher, educated in the schools of his nation, wrote from 
the front on the eve of an engagement from which he was 
not to return, simply these words: "Dear Mother and Grand- 
mother. We are off. Courage. Wisdom and Love." * 

It is, however, in public life and in politics that the witchery 
of formulas and slogans exercises a truly far-reaching and at 
times sinister influence, even though sometimes the politicians' 
witchery of formulas turns out to be a boomerang. Of France 
it might well be said, to transpose the Latin proverb, acta 
volant, verba manent. A politician's actions are soon forgiven 
or forgotten, but a phrase made by him or about him fre- 
quently becomes a part of him, as if branded on his flesh an 
indelible attribute which he carries to the grave. 

There is some justice in this, to be sure. If a politician can 
achieve success with the help of a happy formula, it is only 
natural that a formula which proves blatantly false should 
be registered against him. The following illustrations go to 
show that good men are sometimes blasted by an inadvertent 
phrase: 

"Take the case of M. Emile Ollivier. ... To this very 
day, the masses ignore that it was he who proclaimed war 
with Prussia, but there is scarcely a child who does not 

1 Letters of a Soldier, 1914-1916, London, Constable and Co., 1917, p. 190. 



238 THE FRENCH MIND 

know that he said 'he contemplated the coming struggle 
with a light heart.' Ridicule kills in France, and M. 
Ollivier is ridiculous. It is all over with him. M. Jules 
Favre was a great orator, and for that reason one of the 
ornaments of his century. This is forgotten. He signed 
the disastrous conditions of peace dictated by Bismarck. 
That might have been overlooked. But he had said before- 
hand that 'not one inch of territory, not one stone of any 
French fortress, would be yielded.' This sentence was his 
political knell. General Ducrot was a brave soldier. On 
leaving Paris to go and attack the Prussians, he was so ill- 
advised as to declare that he would return Mead or vic- 
torious.' However, he was still more ill-advised to come 
back alive and vanquished. Here was another only fit to 
throw overboard." 1 



ELOQUENCE VERSUS CHARACTER 

Subject to the power of expression and valuing it above all 
other gifts, the French are poorly equipped for assaying the 
character of their public men. /"The intangibilities of per- 
sonality are baffling to the rationalist; these intangibilities verge 
on the mystical. As a result, into the leading group of public 
men in France often penetrate individuals of unstable or even 
corrupt character. Investigation of such scandals as the ex- 
tensive embezzlements of Oustric, Mme. Hanau, and Stavisky 
in recent years has uncovered questionable practices on the 
part of a number of the high officials of the State. 

This rationalistic inaptitude for guessing and judging the 
character of a man, in abstraction from his degrees, diplomas, 



o7 (Blouet, P) E^/wA Pharisees, French Crocodiles, and 
Other Anglo-French Typical Characters, Toronto, ^92, pp. 220 ff. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 239 

and address, has cost the French nation dearly. A poignant 
example is afforded by General Joff re's account of the failure 
of the attack on the German center in late August, 1914. 
Having recorded the plan of attack and the momentary suc- 
cess of the Fourth Army in its offensive of August 21, he 
writes: 

"On the morning of August 25, it became clear that the 
strategic manoeuver prepared by us since the i8th had 
resulted in a complete failure. ... It was necessary to 
find out why, in spite of the numerical superiority that I 
believed I had assured our armies, the major attack at- 
tempted by us between Longwy and Sambre had been so 
utterly frustrated through tactical insufficiencies. 

"However painful it is to reveal certain weaknesses, it is 
necessary to disclose without reserve all that we came to 
see by the end of the operation. In this trial far too many 
of our generals have shown themselves inferior to their 
task. Some of these had acquired in time of peace the 
reputation of brilliancy as professors or map strategists, 
but proved themselves in the face of the enemy to be 
dominated by the fear of responsibilities. . . . Their char- 
acter, as the war experience demonstrated, was not of the 
calibre demanded by the circumstances." 1 

In this momentous initial defeat of the French, General 
Lanrezac, Commander of the Fifth Army, played a tragic role. 
A French student of the World War writes on the authority 
of Marshal Joffre: 

"Lanrezac scarcely saw anything of his field generals, 
the commanders of the various corps of his army. . . . 

1 Joffre, J., op. cit. f t I, pp. 281 E. 



240 THE FRENCH MIND 

Lanrezac spent all his time in his headquarters, with no 
contact whatsoever with his fighting units. His concep- 
tion of his command stressed the intellectual side to the 
exclusion of everything else. The notion had become 
prevalent before the war that the very vastness of the 
bodies of troops engaged in a modern war must modify 
the role of a Commander-in-Chief. He was to be some- 
thing like the head of an enormous industrial plant, in 
that he would have no need to go out and watch his work- 
ers at first hand." * 

Colonel E. L. Spears, the liaison officer of the British Gen- 
eral Headquarters, who saw General Lanrezac at work during 
the tense days of the border battles, writes of him: 

"Having been a lecturer, and a brilliant one, at the 
French Staff College, he had contracted the habit of ex- 
pounding his views before an audience, and rather liked 
wandering into one of the rooms where the staff were 
working to expound his impressions and theories. . . . 

"Far-sighted he was, and clever, too clever perhaps, and 
certainly too critical. At Guise he manipulated his units 
with the consummate skill of an expert at the great game of 
war, but he played his hand without zest or faith. . . ." 2 

The same observer describes a scene at General Lanrezac's 
headquarters at Craonne on August 31, 1914, at the height of 
the retreat of his army. The scene is interesting because char- 
acteristic of the rationalist's ability to keep his head under 
circumstances, however tragic, whose genesis and process he 
understands. This rationalistic self-control, so characteristic 

* Recouly, R., Joffre, New York, D. Appleton-Century Co., 1931, p. 91. 
2 From Liaison, 1914, by Brigadier General Spears, 1931, pp. 94, 275, re- 
printed with permission by Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc., New York 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 24! 

of Joffre, and of his colleagues as well, proved an invaluable 
helmet, which no attack could shatter and no disaster corrode. 

"Headquarters was installed in the small cMteau where 
Napoleon stayed, so it was said, a hundred years ago, when 
attempting to stem the tide of another invasion. I went 
to the terrace where dinner was being served. It was an 
ideal situation and a perfect night. The view extended 
over the Aisne and across the plain to where the lights of 
Rheims could be seen gleaming 20 miles away. The H.Q. 
telegraphists had fixed wires and lamps so that the terrace 
was well lighted. There were two tables. At one sat the 
General, who had nearly finished dinner. Coffee had been 
served, and the orderlies had withdrawn. What talking 
there was went on in undertones. The mellow night, soft, 
impalpable, velvety, penetrated us all, and in spite of every- 
thing we relaxed. Suddenly the voice of Lanrezac was 
heard. It had a note new to me, soft and cadenced. He 
was speaking Latin reciting verse Horace! And the 
burden of the lines quoted was: 'Oh, how happy is he who 
remains at home . . . instead of waging war!' 

"A long way to the north a muffled gun boomed, firing 
its last rounds of the day. 

"On every road leading south the endless columns 
marched on and on without halt and without rest. 

"Over Paris a German aeroplane dropped a message an- 
nouncing the arrival of the enemy in ten days' time." x 

An exhaustive analysis of this study-room strategist who 
seems to have proved a rather mediocre man of action is given 
by Marshal Joffre himself: 

^From Liaison, 1914, by Brigadier General Spears, 1931, pp. 325 ff., re- 
printed with permission by Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc., New York. 



242 THE FRENCH MIND 

"His physical fatigue had exacerbated his caustic critical 
attitude, which has always been one of his characteristics. 
He had become hesitant and pusillanimous. Under his 
deficient leadership his general staff was entirely devoid 
of team spirit. His personal relations with Sir John 
French had been gravely prejudicial to Franco-British co- 
operation. 

"I could not help reflecting on his brilliant career in 
peace time. All his former students and myself, who had 
him under my orders as a colonel when I was in command 
of the Sixth Division, had been fascinated by his power- 
ful and brilliant intelligence; while conducting operations 
on the map, he showed marvelous lucidity, judgment, and 
a ready mind. It was precisely because I had a high re- 
gard for his intelligence that I had made myself the 
architect of his military fortune, and it was to me that 
he owed the distinction of finding himself at the head of 
an army assigned for the most delicate manoeuver. 

"When I compared, however, the eulogies of him that 
I had heard before the war, with the manner in which he 
behaved in the presence of realities, I was forced, despite 
my great sympathy for him, to conclude that responsi- 
bility crushed him. A brilliant critic of military opera- 
tion in which he was not an actor, he completely lost his 
nerve in the presence of the hard experiences of the be- 
ginning of this campaign. War, on the other hand, can 
be conducted only by men who have faith in their success 
and who by their self-control win the confidence of their 
subordinates and thus can dominate events. . . . 

"What was then my duty? Painful as this was to me 
and reluctant though I was to dismiss from his post one 
of the most highly regarded commanding officers, I found 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 243 

it imperative to change the Commander of the Fifth 
Army ffl 

Marshal Joffre's comments upon the dismissal of General 
Bonneau, commanding officer of the Seventh Army Corps, 
who was responsible for the unjustified retreat to Nancy on 
the Alsace-Lorraine front, are of the same import. The Min- 
ister of War, M. Messimy, had written to the Commander-in- 
Chief : "It is the will of the Government that each general 
who failed to fulfill his duty with sufficient vigor should be 
immediately court-martialed and executed within twenty-four 
hours." Conscious, no doubt, of his own failures in the selec- 
tion of commanding officers, Joffre notes in his diary: 

"The Minister of War whose energy I hold in high re- 
gard went a bit too far. In so far as General Bonneau is 
concerned, he has shown inability to modify his reasoning 
and conduct from the methods of time of peace to those 
that are necessary, in time of war; his character falls short 
of that demanded by the present circumstances. It is diffi- 
cult in time of peace to judge correctly of the character of 
the man, that quality which is the most essential one in 
a military commander in time of war. I should have 
expected to face deficiencies and surprises in this regard. 
I will dismiss incapable generals and will replace diem 
with younger and more vigorous men." 2 

DOCTRINARIANISM 

*' Among the disconcerting grimaces of rationalism, doc- 
trinarianism holds a prominent place. It is difficult to name 
a more striking self-contradiction of rationalism than this 

1 Joffre, J., op. cit. f L I, p. 366 f. *IHd. f p. 280. 



244 THE FRENCH MIND 

blind and blinding passion for doctrine, which often mars the 
conduct of national affairs in rationalistic France. "I know 
my socialists," M. Albert Thomas, Minister of Munitions dur- 
ing the World War, confided to his British and Russian friends, 
according to the newspapers of the time. "They will shed their 
blood for a formula. You may accept it and alter its inter- 
pretation." The difficulty is increased by the fact that the 
other political parties are similarly bound by specious phrases. 
Friendly compromise and co-operation between opposing 
political parties rarely occurs in France. A. Lawrence Lowell 
fittingly described this peculiarity of the French mind: 

' "The Frenchman is theoretical rather than practical in 
politics. He is inclined to pursue an ideal, striving to 
realize his conception of a perfect form of society, and is 
reluctant to give up any part of it for the sake of attaining 
so much as lies within his reach. Such a tendency 
naturally gives rise to a number of groups, each with a 
separate ideal, and each unwilling to make the sacrifice 
that is necessary for a fusion into a great party. In short, 
the intensity of political sentiment prevents the develop- 
ment of real political issues. To the Frenchman, public 
questions have an absolute rather than a relative or prac- 
tical bearing, and therefore he cares more for principles 
and opinions than for facts. This tendency is shown in 
the programmes of the candidates, which are apt to be 
philosophic documents instead of statements of concrete 
policy and, although published at great length, often give 
a comparatively small idea of the position of the imme- 
diate questions of the day. It is shown also in the news- 
papers, and the use that is made of them. An Anglo- 
Saxon reads for information about current events, and as 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 245 

all the papers contain very much the same news, he hab- 
itually reads only one. But the French papers contain far 
less news, and as the Frenchman reads them largely for 
the sake of the editorials, he commonly reads several in 
order to compare the opinions they express." * 

Perhaps in no democratically governed country is there less 
appreciation of the common-sense point of view that one 
should profit by the opponent's criticisms; that a reasonable 
man always owes a part of his success to his friends, but that 
a still greater part may be due to his enemies. 

It was said of the French soldiers of the Revolutionary and 
Napoleonic Wars that each private carried a marshal's baton 
.in his knapsack. It may be said of the parliamentarians of 
present-day France that, with rare exceptions, there is a 
premier's portfolio in the brief case of every ambitious poli- 
tician and what politician is not ambitious? each supplied 
with some "sure fire" panacea. Moreover, intellectuals, too 
frequently motivated by a hollow pride in their own acumen, 
are inclined to be solitaires, politically to disregard party dis- 
cipline and to underrate or contemn group action. The ra- 
tionalist is also inclined to seek the limelight for the display 
of his analytical skill and his flights of oratory. Each one of 
some sixteen parties represented in parliament has, of course, 
its own doctrine, its own particular scheme of government if 
not its own brand of political millennium. Besides, in a 
numerically small party the average deputy or senator is a 
greater man than he could hope to be in a large party; in 
the selection of members of the inevitable coalition cabinets, 
the specific gravity of his vote is higher, assuring a larger cut 

1 Lowell, A. L., The Governments of France, Italy, and Germany, Cam- 
bridge, Harvard University Press, 1914, pp. 81 E. Cf. also Barthelemy, J., 
Le Gouvernement de la France, Paris, Payot, 1925. 



246 THE FRENCH MIND 

in government bounties and a livelier hope of grasping some 
day if only for a day a cabinet portfolio. Undesirable as 
this peculiarity of French politics may be from the point of 
view of the vital national interests of France, it is a defect 
inherent in the rationalism of her national genius. 

In the vague designations of French political parties it is 
hard to recognize impeccable logic and lucidity. With the 
exception of the Communists and Socialists, who wear inter- 
national labels, French political parties are named in a con- 
fusing and contradictory fashion. The 618 seats in the Cham- 
ber of Deputies elected in 1936 were distributed among the 
following parties: 

1. Left. Communists, Dissident Communists, Socialists, 
Socialist and Republican Union, Radical Socialists, miscel- 
laneous parties. 

2. Center. Democratic Left and Independent Radicals, Re- 
publican Left and Independent Radicals, Popular Democrats. 

3. "Right. Independent D' Action Populaire, Republican 
Federation, Republican Independent, Independent Republi- 



cans. 1 



The multiplicity of these vaguely differentiated political 
parties is clearly injurious to the national welfare and the in- 
ternational strength of France. Instability of government and 
constant danger to the continuity of national policies inevi- 
tably result from the leapfrog cabinets, born of the difficulty 
of maintaining an effective and stable parliamentary majority. 
When in June, 1936, M. L6on Blum, the Socialist leader, 
formed a cabinet to succeed that of M. Albert Sarraut, it was 
the one hundred and first cabinet of the Third Republic; the 
average life of a French cabinet since September, 1870, has 
been seven months and twenty days. True, thanks to a non- 

1 The New York Times, June 20, 1937. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 247 

partisan devotion on the part of the majority of civil-service 
officials or because of their inertia and reluctance to change 
the better traditions of national administration have been pre- 
served. The civil service has been invaluable ballast that has 
enabled the ship of State to weather the revolutionary storms 
and the incessant shifting of cabinets. Lately, however, the 
civil service itself has been invaded by partisan disorders, civil 
servants participating in strikes and demonstrations. As a 
result, the ideal of free government is increasingly compro- 
mised in France by selfish or doctrinary politicians and offi- 
cials. 

With this recurrent chaos in French domestic politics, char- 
acterized by the inability of French doctrinaires to evolve a 
solid political organization, the military organization contrasts 
favorably, on the whole. The experiences of the World War 
have demonstrated, however, that the French military organ- 
ization is liable to the characteristic defect of rationalism; 
while the British are inclined to "muddle through" without 
evolving any basic plan or major strategy, the French military, 
not unlike their civilian fellow-citizens, are subject to all the 
excesses of doctrinarism. 

Before the World War the future French commanders, from 
the designated Commander-in-Chief and his staff officers down 
to the junior regimental officers, had been educated in the 
worship of "the offensive at all costs" (offensive h Voutrcmee). 
The all-important lessons of trench warfare, which might have 
been derived from the Russo-Japanese War, were utterly neg- 
lected under the spell of "the offensive at all costs," that, 
"raised to the height of a religious frenzy, animated all 
ranks." * With a rash and elegant bravery reminiscent of the 

1 Churchill, W. S., The World Crisis, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 
P- 151- 



248 THE FRENCH MIND 

medieval chivalry, the French army plunged into the first 
battles of the World War. The infantry, conspicuous in red 
breeches and blue coats, marched into battle in close forma- 
tion; the cavalry in glittering array dashed against the German 
machine guns; and artillery officers in black and gold drew the 
fire of enemy sharpshooters. The French High Command 
was brought to the more economical methods of warfare, en- 
trenchment and attack by moving ambush, only after many 
useless heavy sacrifices. 

Analyzing the causes of the defeat of his armies in the border 
battles of August 7-24, Joffre noted August 24 as follows: 

"The ineptitude of commanding officers of a certain 
number of units was, evidently, not the only cause of our 
reverses. It was manifest that the principles of the offen- 
sive which we had tried to inculcate in the army before the 
war had often been poorly understood and poorly applied. 
From all the points of the front faults of maneuvering 
were reported to me, which had caused heavy losses and 
reduced to zero not only the offensive but also the defen- 
sive value of the troops. I have been informed that for- 
ward units, inspired with a false comprehension of the 
offensive, went to attack without support of artillery and 
thus fell, in massive formations, under the enemy's artillery 
fire. In some other instances, a large unit advanced with- 
out having taken measures for the protection of its flanks 
and found itself exposed to a cruel punishment. The in- 
fantry was almost always thrown into the attack at a point 
too far from the objective. Never were the positions taken 
from the enemy properly fortified before the forward 
movement was continued. As a result, the unsuccess of 
further advance meant that in the retreat the acquisitions 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 249 

made in the previous movement were lost also. Above 
all, the co-operation between the artillery and infantry 
was almost never realized." 1 

In a recent paper contributed to the Revue des Deux Mondes, 
General Debeney, one of the grands chefs of the World War, 
found it necessary to warn the army and the country against 
the delusions of a new doctrine, which was current at the time 
in the French army. The new catchword was Vitesse (Speed, 
with a capital S) ; it was now bruited that the secret of suc- 
cess in the next war would lie in the speed with which motor- 
ized and mechanized units could be thrown into action against 
the weaker points of the enemy lines or marching columns. 
The new formula was: "The Allies were carried to victory on 
floods of petroleum." General Debeney warned the military 
authorities not to succumb to another panacea. He exhorted 
them not to overlook, in their engrossment with speed, the 
factor of force, which will largely depend upon heavy artil- 
lery. 2 

In the army and navy of each belligerent country, the staff 
officers form a sort of aristocracy within the body of profes- 
sional officers and are inclined to give themselves the airs of 
high priests of the profession. The staff officers of the General 
Headquarters were prone to be a caste within a caste jealously 
surrounding the Commander-in-Chief and diminishing, if not 
entirely precluding, his direct touch with the armed forces 
under his command. In France, these highest of the military 
high priests were, at least at the time of Marshal Joflfre and his 
successor General Nivelle, so aggressively obstinate in their 
doctrinairism as to be strongly disliked by the army in gen- 

1 Joffre, J., op. dt., t. I, pp. 303 f. 

2 General Debeney, "La memorisation des armees modernes," Revue des 
Deux Mondes, 15 mars 1936, pp. 273-290. 



250 THE FRENCH MIND 

eral; they were nicknamed "Young Turks," the allusion being 
to the group of doctrinaire revolutionary officers in Turkey 
who mismanaged national affairs in 1908-1913. 

As a curious historical detail relative to doctrinairism in 
military matters the following story told by M. Jean Pierrefeu 
may be cited: 

"As is well known, the Germans preluded their offensive 
of 1918 by shelling Paris with a long-range cannon. The 
first day it was generally thought that an unnoticed aero- 
plane had thrown bombs on the capital city. When, how- 
ever, a shell splinter was found showing the traces of 
grooving, the question was raised whether the Germans 
were not using, after all, a long-range cannon. 

"The news reached us at the Great General Headquar- 
ters during the day of March 23. Immediately, animated 
discussions were engaged in as to the validity of the hy- 
pothesis just mentioned. Naturally, the artillerists were 
asked to give their opinion. Not one of the artillery offi- 
cers employed at the Great General Headquarters, several 
of whom were staff officers (brevct&s)) would take seri- 
ously the idea of a German gun shelling Paris. Our par- 
ticular mess, which counted among its members several 
superior artillery officers, was the scene of a controversy 
worthy to be immortalized in an epic poem. Wagers were 
made by the artillerists, who declared themselves ready to 
pay for all the champagne we could consume, if it should 
be proved that the Germans were firing at Paris with a 
long-range cannon. Nay, they were ready to pledge their 
entire property and their salaries for the next ten years, so 
sure they were that at the present stage of the science of 
ballistics it was unthinkable to construct an engine of war 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 25! 

capable of shelling Paris from the distance of some hun- 
dred kilometers, the closest point of the German front 
being at that distance from Paris. ... It is sad to reflect 
upon the fact that among the representatives of the arm 
which did such marvels in the war there were so many 
narrow-minded individuals, without imagination and in- 
capable of vision. Anyone who witnessed this controversy 
can well understand why the French army entered the 
war so poorly equipped with heavy artillery. Our staff 
officers in all the services are subject to similar prejudices. 
It is imperative that they be free of them in the future, if 
our country is to keep the place which it deserves. . . ." x 

THE GEOMETRICAL STATE AND THE INDIVIDUAL 

We shall have another occasion to refer to manifestations 
of the French national character in the vital matters of the 
national defense of France. Now we will turn our attention 
to the general spirit of the government of France. 

How is rationalistic France governed? France is governed 
in a manner revealing, further, the virtues and defects of 
the rationalistic attitude toward the problems of life. The 
organization of the French national government, viewed in 
its entirety, is a pyramid of interlocking rights and responsi- 
bilities, in which the place of a subordinate magistrate is as 
clearly delineated and neatly fitted into the general scheme 
as is that of a cabinet minister. The base of the pyramid is as 
large as France herself, and its apex of parliament and the 
cabinet ministers is capped by the nominal head of the gov- 
ernment in the person of the President of the Republic. 

True, the geometrical structure of the highly centralized 

1 Op. cit., t II, pp. 128 f. 



252 THE FRENCH MIND 

French national administration is due not only to the French 
rationalistic predilection for mathematical schemes and ar- 
rangements of life, but also to geographical and historical 
factors, which demanded that the French evolve a scheme of 
government permitting a rapid mobilization of the nation's 
forces, physical and moral, under the undivided leadership 
of a central government. It is correct to say that the fate of 
France has been to live dangerously. From the beginning of 
her history as a great power, France found herself in a vul- 
nerable position. After almost two centuries of pressure in 
the dreadful nutcracker of the Austrian and Spanish Haps- 
burgs, historical circumstances placed France into the unsafe 
situation between the German ambition for a place in the sun 
and the English conception of the balance of power. 

In spite of their dangerous situation the French, however, 
could have well afforded in more recent times a larger meas- 
ure of regional autonomy. The purely rationalistic tendency 
toward mathematical symmetry in government has prevented 
the French from effecting a reasonable measure of decentral- 
ization. It is also well to remember that not a king but a 
revolutionary assembly divided France into departments, 
which are geometrical rather than natural geographical units, 
each functioning as an adjunct to Paris. The non-mathematical 
English have created a complex, confusing system of local 
administration, which permits experimentation within a lim- 
ited region. Rationalistic France, on the contrary, is com- 
mitted to wholesale centralization, despite the constant grum- 
bling against the Paris bureaucracy (fa bureaux de Paris). 
The center of the political and economic power of France, 
Paris has attracted persons of talent and ambition in all walks 
of life; and it is still said, correctly, that while vigorous stock 
of other countries emigrates to distant colonies, the French 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 253 

emigrate to Paris. All trunk railroads pass through Paris, as 
well as the much older paved roads, which played a vital role 
in the military success of the French during the Revolutionary 
and Napoleonic Wars. Paris is France, as London is not and 
perhaps can never be England; Paris is indeed the heart and 
soul of France; the street fights of Paris make and unmake 
epochs in the history of the nation. 

Not everything in the mathematical system of government 
in this most rationalistic of countries is reasonable, however. 
The logic of several important features of political life in 
France is as imperfect as that which gave a romance of four 
gallants the title of The Three Musketeers. The Constitution 
of the Third Republic (1875, 1879, 1884), for instance, defines 
carefully the prerogatives of the President of the Republic; but 
tradition has refused him the right to exercise them so that 
the ^palace of Elysee is called in political parlance "the prison 
of Elyse." * The real power is in the hands of the Prime Min- 
ister, whose authority is only partially and indirectly defined 
in the Constitution. 

The State machine handles the individual with the usual 
indifference of a State machine, aggravated, however, in France 
by the rationalistic diffidence on the part of the functionaries 
who tend the machine. They do not indulge in guessing an 
individual's character and therefore are prone to suspect him 
of ill intentions and actual transgressions, until he has satisfied 
them, beyond all doubts, of his respectability. Montaigne, who 
was well conversant with law, once remarked that if he were 
accused of stealing the towers of Notre Dame, he would flee 

1 Poincare, R., Au service de la France, Paris, Plon, 1932, t. V, p. 66. Com- 
plaining of being negligently informed by the Commander-in-Chief and the 
Minister of War as to the war developments, M. Poincare says: "Confined 
to my prison of ISlysee, I am little informed as to what is going on at the 
Great General Headquarters." 



254 THE FRENCH MIN0 

the kingdom rather than risk a trial. This sixteenth-century 
hyperbole contains an element still true to reality; while 
France has to her credit Code Napolton, her jurisprudence is 
characterized by the Latin flaw of assumption of guilt until 
proof of innocence and by the complication of delays and 
technicalities. 

The New York Times carried some time ago, under the 
caption "Youth Legally Dead in Tangle in France," an ac- 
count of a legal case characteristic of the lumbering com- 
plexity of the bureaucratic law: 

"Recent Paris newspapers report the odd case of a young 
M. Sonnier, who, they say, is able to visit his own grave 
in the graveyard of St. Rambert d'Aibon, in the Drome 
Department. 

"In the middle of August a young man signed his name, 
'Jules Sonnier,' to a slip for identification and left two suit- 
cases in a local cafe to be called for on the following day. 
He did not call for them, and a few days later a badly 
mutilated body was found near the Paris-Marseilles Rail- 
way line and was identified by the proprietor of the cafe 
as the owner of the suitcases. 

"He then opened the suitcases, found letters, and tele- 
graphed the sad news to Sonnier pere, who hastened from 
his home in Paris and also identified as Jules Sonnier the 
body found near the railway tracks. The body was buried. 

"On the evening of the funeral the cafe-keeper returned 
to his work, when he was confronted by Jules Sonnier, 
who, apologizing for his tardiness, asked for the return of 
his suitcases. 

"According to the newspapers which have printed the 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 255 

story, young Sonnier must now begin a long and compli- 
cated process of law in order to regain the legal identity 
of which the mistaken identification of the cafe-keeper 
and his father had deprived him." x 

REVOLUTIONISM AND CONSERVATISM 

The French have long held the reputation in the world at 
large of being an ungovernable, revolutionary people. Caesar 
described the Gauls as a tribe of unstable, whimsical character 
(mobilitas ct levitas mimi)\ while Pope Paul IV (1555-1559), 
though he witnessed the decisive phase of the formation of 
the French nation during the first half of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, referred, not without irritation, to the French as a nation 
that cannot keep still (stare loco nesdunf). Many foreign 
observers of the French have formed a similar impression of 
them. This impression is, however, scarcely correct. 

True, the history of France records more revolutions than 
that of any other leading Western nation; in addition to the 
Fronde (1648-1663), and the revolutionary decade of 1789- 
1799, there were also the July Revolution of 1830, the February 
Revolution of 1848, the Revolution of September 4, 1870, and 
the Communist regime, March-May, 1871. Nevertheless, a 
close analysis of French national history shows that the po- 
litical readjustments of France have been more violent in ap- 
pearance than in reality. 

From the historical experience of his own country the aver- 
age Frenchman knows that revolutions usually fail to change 
the very conditions they are fomented to correct; revolutionary 
governments in France have shown a deplorable tendency to 

1 September 13, 1931. 



256 THE FRENCH MIND 

take over not only the power but the abuses of power of their 
immediate predecessors. The Frenchman has reason to con- 
clude that the more politics change, the more it is the same 
old story (plus fa change, plus fa est la m&me chose). As 
M. Andre Siegfried has well explained in his Tableau des 
partis, the average Frenchman, being a communicative ration- 
alist, loves to play with ideas; out of a kind of intellectual 
snobbishness he willingly shows himself radical in conversa- 
tion or even by vote. The foreign observer who concludes 
from caf6 harangues, or even from the election of a number 
of Communists to the Chamber of Deputies, that France is ripe 
for a communistic dictatorship, is deceived. An entry from 
the notebook of M. Ludovic Halvy, depicting the state of 
mind of a ca%6 "Red" of the sixties, illustrates a characteristic 
contradiction: 

"June 10 [1867]. Much anxiety for the maintenance of 
order in Paris tonight. Things are taking a seriously bad 
shape for the Government. It is important that streets be 
kept free for traffic at all cost. To be sure, the musket 
would promptly sweep clean the streets, but to fire at 
Parisians is always a grave matter. 

"Quite an interesting example of reasoning was given 
me by Derval, director of the 'Gymnase,' who had picked 
it up in a conversation with the owner of a hosiery shop 
opposite the theater. 

" 'Well,' said Derval to the hosier, 'I have known you 
for twenty years now and your business has always been 
good; you must have accumulated a nice little fortune. 
Why then do you wish for a revolution?' 

" 'But I don't wish for a revolution not at all.' 

"'How not at all? Didn't you vote for Rochefort?' 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 257 

" 'Yes, I did, for the sole reason of teasing the Emperor. 5 
" 'Very well, this may be as good reason as any, but what 
if Rochefort were to cause rioting in Paris?* 

" 'Rioting? I am not afraid of this. The Emperor has a 
firm hand and if Rochefort should go too far the Govern- 
ment will bring him back to reason quick enough.' " 1 

The average Frenchman is inclined, in practice, to see eye to 
eye with a hero of Pierre Mille, who held that "reforms are 
a good topic of conversation, but a foolhardy thing to under- 
take." 2 M. Bernard Grasset, replying in the Revue univer- 
selle 3 to Herr Sieburg's appraisal of the French national char- 
acter, Gott in Franfyreich, has seized upon the true source of 
French conservatism; singling out Herr F. Sieburg's reference 
to "the narrow-mindedness of the French bourgeois," he re- 
torts: 

"You repeatedly speak in your book of the reluctance of 
France to participate in what you describe as the forward 
march of peoples. This reluctance, pray believe, is noth- 
ing but the sum total of the resistance to adventure on the 
part of individual peasants and middle-class people, whose 
'narrow-mindedness' has shocked you. It is the resistance 
to adventure on the part of the man who possesses and 
who hopes to transmit property to his descendants. To 
accumulate and bequeath, for a time to possess and always 
to defend what one possesses such is the essential element 
of French prudence." 

Pre-eminently sober in dealing with vital affairs, the average 
Frenchman understands clearly that private property is the 

1 "Mes carnets," Revue des Deux Mondes, i & fevrier 1934, pp. 561 f. 
2 Cf. "Contrarietes frangaises," Le Temps, 12 novembre 1930. 
*i w novembre 1930, 



258 THE FRENCH MIND 

summation of man's economic evolution and the necessary 
condition of liberty; no amount of anarchistic, socialistic, and 
communistic oratory can wean him from this conviction. 

Appearing much more revolutionary in political matters 
than he really is, the average Frenchman is still less revolu- 
tionary with regard to mores. The various political revolutions 
through which France has passed have had very little effect 
upon the average Frenchman's fundamental conception of the 
values of life. Even in the throes of post-war readjustment the 
family, that basic social unit which is also an influential nursery 
of fundamental loyalties, has maintained its solidarity in France 
as in few nations of the West. In fact, in France the guidance 
and authority of parents are probably more effective than in 
many other European lands, 1 

This is perhaps due primarily to the French woman. Recent 
political hysterias of open and covert revolutions have shown, 
it seems, that woman in every land is more prudent and cir- 

1 C. the appraisal of the traditional ways of the French family life 
made by a Japanese girl who married a Frenchman and went to live in 
France: 

**Now I have actually made my debut in real French life at the family 
estate in the forest of Marly. Family life here does not resemble that of 
Europeans abroad. I was surprised to find it very similar to our own. 
I have married a foreigner and taken this great journey, only to find at 
the end of it that which I thought I was leaving! . . . Pierre leaves me 
every morning and returns in the evening. On his return he resembles a 
Japanese husband in that he falls into the best armchair and does not refuse 
any of my attentions. I can prepare and serve him a drink and bring his 
slippers; he does not protest. ... In short, in many ways my marriage 
resembles a Japanese marriage. I recognise the same circumspection, the 
same proprieties. French economy is another form of Japanese simplicity. 
. . . Most surprising of all, next week I am going to have at my house a 
veritable Japanese mi-ai (marriage interview). I have discovered with 
stupor that French marriages are generally arranged by means of introduc- 
tions and intermediaries. The young men and girls here find this custom 
perfectly normal and suitable. You can imagine with what feeling I am 
acting to-day as honorable intermediary for a friend of my husband!'* 
(Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 juin 1936, translated in the Magazine Digest 
"Letter of a Japanese Bride," July, 1936, pp. 49 ff.) 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 259 

cumspect in vital political problems than man. Woman, the 
naturaL guardian of the safety and integrity of the family, has 
understood that radical movements sooner or later endanger 
her -vital interests, that the family can be maintained only upon 
the traditional bases of affection and authority, evolved by the 
sound instinct and accumulated wisdom of mankind. In this 
noble conservatism, the French woman shares abundantly. 
Indeed^ her attention is so completely centered upon her home 
and her children, that, unfortunately, she has not sought even 
the right to vote. This lack of political ambition, however, 
has been fostejred, in a degree, by masculine prejudice. Her- 
mann "Wendel points out in his recent study of Danton that 
Th6roi^gne de Mericourt, "the Amazon of Freedom," was 
roundly cheered when she swaggered before the Cordeliers 
with a pistol and sword, but when "she instituted a patriotic 
woman's club in the faubourg Saint-Antoine, Santerre, ad- 
dressing the 'Friends of the Constitution,' was one mind with 
Daiiton: The men of the faubourg prefer to find their homes 
in order when they come back from their work rather than 
see the dr wives returning from meetings which do not always 
teach tlem sweetness of manner/ " * 

WelL-balanced rationalism does not exclude loyalty to values 
that ar c scientifically non-demonstrable, as it does not exclude 
faith bn a super-natural reality. The intelligent and clear- 
sighted rationalist understands, for example, that attempts to 
treat subtle moral and metaphysical matters with the methods 
of the 3iatural sciences, have led investigators to such obviously 
absurd pseudo-scientific conclusions as that there is no differ- 
ence between loyalty and disloyalty, between honesty and dis- 
honesty, between mercy and cruelty all sensations and actions 
arising-,, according to mechanistic natural science, from one 

1 WcnL<id, H., Danton, New York, Yale University Press, 1935, pp. 46 f. 



260 THE FRENCH MIND 

and the same mechanistic function of a wholly material and 
unmotivated universe. Thus intelligence rises to dominate 
itself as it were, through the realization that there are reasons 
which escape reason; x that honestly to recognize the limits of 
the reliable operation of reason means to increase rather than 
diminish the significance of reason by avoiding the spiritual 
bankruptcy which attends the effort to reduce matters of faith 
and intuition to a mechanistic formula. This reasonable atti- 
tude toward metaphysical speculation has been characteristic 
of the outstanding French thinkers, skeptics included. 

Take Montaigne, for example. He did not believe in the 
possibility of objective knowledge, but thought that the human 
mind was doomed to remain prisoner of its own subjectivity 
and of the resulting illusion and error. The only improvement 
possible for such an unfortunate condition, Montaigne thought, 
was to bring some order into our thinking. This would not 
make our thinking more objective, but at least it would make 
our thought a more consistent process. Montaigne, further, 
negated any objective bases for distinguishing between good 
and evil. Denying the existence of an objective moral con- 
science, he held that moral laws were a mere product of con- 
vention; but he elevated custom and tradition to the dignity 
of moral guides. Next, seeking for a still more solid anchor 
amidst the uncertainties of life., Montaigne declared his adhe- 
sion to the Catholic faith of his ancestors. His line of reason- 
ing, as given in the Essais, has a lucid simplicity: Since I can- 
not make an objective choice from various metaphysics, I asso- 
ciate myself with that of my ancestors and remain in the con- 
dition where God has put me. Otherwise, I should be cease- 
lessly shifting. Being conservative by the grace of God, I 
adhere to the beliefs of my religion and I am free from the 

1 Pascal, Pensees, XI1L 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 2,6l 

agitations and doubts of conscience, despite all the divisions 
and sects produced by the century in which we are living. 

Descartes voiced the national prudence in his discussion of 
the rational foundation of morals: 

"The first rule is to obey the laws and customs of my 
country, adhering firmly to the religion in which it pleased 
God to instruct me already in my childhood. In all other 
matters of life I am guided by the opinions most moderate 
and most distant from extremes, opinions commonly prac- 
ticed by the most judicious of those among whom I might 
be living." 1 

Voltaire professed an outlook upon life, which, not unlike 
Montaigne's, was a curious combination of skepticism, posi- 
tivism, and traditionalism. Baudelaire complained that every- 
one in France was a Voltaire. This most representative 
French mind moderately sensuous, inexhaustibly agile, re- 
sourceful, and sparkling lent itself to the audacious criticism 
of all things, human and divine; the essential Voltaire re- 
mained, however, a prudent French bourgeois, rationalistic in 
his skepticism no less than in his passion for the fundamental 
human rights. 

Metaphysics, according to Voltaire, is concerned with two 
problems that which all men of common sense already know 
and that which they never will know. He advised "the little 
bourgeois from a small town" that the universe does not think 
about men, the future does not take care of itself. But the 
conclusion which Voltaire draws from these distressing obser- 
vations is quite moderate: In view of the uncertainty of human 
condition and destiny the prudent man strives to give his soul, 
whether perishable or not, all the virtues, pleasures, and en- 



^-Discours de la methode, 111. 

NM-l8 



262 THE FRENCH MIND 

lightcnment of which he is capable. 1 In the Lcttrcs anglaises, 
Voltaire reasons as follows: A sensible man should not be 
exercised over the inability of the human mind to know the 
ultimate, or metaphysical, nature of thought, the properties of 
the universe, and the other secrets which God has not revealed 
us. One might with as much justification be exercised over 
not having four legs and two wings. To look upon the uni- 
verse as a prison and upon men as criminals doomed to exe- 
cution is the view of a fanatic. To imagine that the world 
was created exclusively for enjoyment is the delusion of the 
sybarite. A prudent man should, on the contrary, believe that 
men and animals are what they should be in the order of 
things established by creation. For all his scoffing, Voltaire 
never forgot, and was tireless in advocating, the importance 
of biensfonce and convenance. 

The philosophy of the chief among modern Voltaireans, An- 
atole France, reflected the typically French triad of skepticism, 
positivism, and traditionalism. In an unfinished dialogue, 
M&aphysique de I* existence, he raised the searching question, 
"Will this world into which we are cast, in a state of tragic 
ignorance as to what it is and what we are, always remain 
beyond our ken, seeing that our senses, whose testimony is 
governed by our reason, bring us into touch with external ob- 
jects?" Anatole France gave the following answer: 

"Alas, this physical machine which puts us in touch 
with the material world that encompasses us, is a clumsy 
machine which bumps blindly against the things it en- 
counters, but never penetrates beneath their surface. All 
things are proof against its impact. It comes to a halt at 

1 "La Vanite," Oeuvres, PImprimerie de la Societe litteraire, 1785, t. 14, 
pp. 146 ff. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 263 

the surface, and the substance, however finely it may be 
sublimated, always remains hidden from us. As for our 
reason, it is a vague, indefinite, uncertain, confused, and 
changeful thing. It varies, even in the same individual, 
from year to year, from day to day, from hour to hour. It 
flares up and dies down with equal suddenness and does 
but produce perplexity and countless contradictory no- 



tions." 1 



"The unknowable envelops and throttles us," complains 
Anatole France. Everything in man is a mystery. And yet 
we cannot know anything but man, because trees do not talk, 
neither does the grass sing. "It was," he concludes in the 
Jardin d'Epicure, "a great joke at our expense when the 
Delphic Oracle admonished us, 'Know thyself,' because never 
do we know ourselves and still less do we know others 
In Balthasar we read: "Only that which is true is divine, and 
what is divine is hidden from us. In vain we search for 
truth." 8 

Anatole France did not lose his way, however, on his excur- 
sions along the wailing wall of skepticism. He never lost the 
pity that makes the tears of life sacred to us, and his irony 
wore a smile that disarms anger. Being a good Frenchman 
after all, he advanced on firmer ground with the coming on 
of age, which almost invariably transforms a skeptical Parisian 
into a solid French bourgeois, as it changes a fickle, ferment- 
ing grape juice into a noble wine. Discussing French ration- 
alism and skepticism, Anatole France mused: 

"Far from being incompatible with sentiment, ability to 
reason leads to it. 

1 Translated in Under the Rose, London, John Lane, 1926, pp. n . 

2 Calmann-Levy, 1921, p. 59. 

* Qeuvres, Paris, Calmann-Levy, 1925, t. IV, pp. 142 f. 



264 THE FRENCH MIND 

"After they have meditated for a long time, the most 
skeptical of thinkers have been gripped by deep commis- 
eration for their f ellowmen, in the face of the futility of 
the eternal flux of the universe, in the face of the fragility 
of human life and happiness, and the absurd sufferings 
which men inflict upon one another during that brief 
dream which is human life. From this compassion there 
is but one step to fraternal love. Pity becomes active and 
the man who believed himself for ever detached from all 
things human rushes headlong into the combat of life, to 
bring aid and assistance to his suffering brothers." * 

He taught in the Credo d'wn Incrtdule: "Reason warns us 
itself of its own feebleness and informs us of its own limita- 
tions." 2 In Thais he advises his readers: "The sage has no 
better guide in his actions than customs and usages." 3 In La 
Vie Liufraire he reaches the conclusion that respect for the 
past is the only sure religion that remains to man and this re- 
ligion is a link between the new and the old times. 

M. Lucien Romier in a recent sketch gives the sly apology 
of an anti-clerical peasant for a typical compromise with tra- 
dition; the peasant and Anatole France would have under- 
stood one another perfectly: 

"'How are your children?' I asked. 
"He looked timid. 'All right. My eldest daughter is 
getting married. She asked me to invite you.' 
"To the town hall or to the church?' 
"To both if you can/ 
"'So you haven't eaten the priest yet?' 

*Les propos d' Anatole France recueillis par Paul G$ell. Paris. Grasset 
1921, pp. 841. 
*ltod., p. 84. 
* Novelle edition, Calmana-Levy, 1923, p, 49. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 265 

" 'Not before the marriage, and, besides, you know, he's 
getting pretty old. There are better things to sink one's 
teeth into.'" 1 

In short, M. Emile Montague, the translator of Emerson, 
Shakespeare, and Macaulay, and the literary critic for the 
Revue des Deux Mondes, was, it seems, entirely in agreement 
with historical truth when he wrote of the contradictions of 
the French national character as follows: 

> "A revolutionary people, says one historian, who dates 
the history of France from 1789 and who forgets that 
France has been the most monarchical of all monarchical 
countries. An irreligious people, affirms another historian, 
disregarding the fact that the Catholic Church was sup- 
ported by France at a crucial moment and that the tri- 
umphant march of the Reformation was arrested by the 
loyalty of France to the traditional ecclesiastical institu- 
tions. The truth is that France is a country of contradic- 
tions, at one and the same time given to audacious inno- 
vations and obstinately conservative a country of revolu- 
tions and tradition, of Utopias and routine. There is no 
other country where innovations die out as rapidly as some 
of them do in France; but in no country do memories live 
longer than in France. . . . We are light-minded, in a 
sense; but we are so only in relation to things which no 
amount of seriousness can change. . . . Convention holds 
the Frenchman to be a creature devoid of all depth and 
indifferent to the philosophical speculation, which he is 
pictured as having abandoned to the inhabitants of the 
German mists. But in reality there is no people more 

1 Romier, L., "Conversation avec un paysan," translated in The Living 
Age, September, 1933, pp. 27 f . 



266 THE FRENCH MIND 

eager for ideas than the French are; nor is there a nation 
more devoted to philosophizing than are the French, who 
are more than any other nation passionately fond of ab- 
stractions, sometimes to the oblivion of facts." * 

POLITICAL MYSTICISM 2 AND MYSTICAL 
IMPOVERISHMENT 

Among the contradictions of the French national character 
none seems more significant than that between the manifesta- 
tions of political mysticism, on the one hand, and the clear 
indications of a mystical impoverishment of the nation, on the 
other. 8 

French political mysticism is an especially interesting subject 
of psychological study, not only because of France's interna- 
tional importance, but also because of her well-justified repu- 
tation as a rationalistic country. The country of Descartes, 
that apostle of tangible, geometrical certainty, and of Voltaire, 
the tireless "debunker," France, nevertheless, has always had 
among her sons and daughters persons at one and the same 
time endowed with the ability for clear thinking and logical 

^Essai sur I'epoque actuelle. Libres opinions morales et historiques, 
Poulet-Matassis, 1858, pp. 2f. 

2 Adapted from our Shackled Diplomacy, New York, 1934, Barnes & Noble, 
Ch. III. 

8 See Barres, M., L'dme frangaise, Paris, Emile-Paul Freres, 1915; Autour 
des eglises de village, Paris, A. Messein, 1913; La grande pitie des eglises de 
France, Paris, Emile-Paul Freres, 1914; The Faith oj France, Houghton Mifflin, 
1918; Les traits eternels de la France, Paris, Emile-Paul Freres, 1916. Gorce, 
M.-M., La France au-dessus des races: Origines et formation de la nation 
franfaise, Paris, Payot, 1934. Peguy, Ch., "Lettres et entretiens,;' Cahiers 
de la quinzaine, 1897; Les mysteres de Jeanne a" Arc, Paris, Emile-Paul 
Freres, 1911-13; Notre Patrie, Paris, Nouvelle Revue Fran^aise, 1915. Sorel, 
G., Reflexions sur la violence, Paris, M. Riviere, 1925. Togel, K., Das 
wirtyiche Franfyeich, Hamburg, Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt, 1934. Valery, 
P., "Notes sur la grandeur et la decadence de PEurope," in Regards sur le 
monde actuel, Stock, 1931. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 267 

calculation, and yet capable of a profound mystic faith in the 
high mission of their motherland as the leader of civilization. 

There is a peculiar element in the political mysticism of the 
French; no other nation invokes as freely and ardently the 
personifications of abstract ideas. Among the battle cruisers 
operating in the Mediterranean in 1917, we find Vtrite and 
Justice; the Englishman, a man of action, in baptizing his war 
vessels has shown preference for the names like "Resolute," 
"Renown," "Repulse," "Revenge," "Despatch," "Adventure," 
"Furious," "Courageous," "Glorious." The municipality of 
Bordeaux has named one of its streets Rue d'Esprit-des-Lois, 
after the great work of Montesquieu. French politicians, ap- 
pealing to this national habit of thought, reduce their platforms 
to a blast of impressive abstractions. For example, the plat- 
form of the moderate conservatives is the slogan, Fatherland 
France Nation; that of the moderate socialists, Revolution 
Science Progress Democracy; and that of the royalists, 
Monarchy Hierarchy Religion Universality* 

The oration delivered by General Antoine at the funeral of 
the heroic war aviator, Captain Georges Guynemer, furnishes 
a characteristic example of the lengths to which anthropo- 
morphic mysticism is carried in France: 

"Banners of the Second Aviation Division and of the 
First Army: 

"You, that piously gather into the mystery of your ven- 
erable folds the memories of valor, devotion, and sacrifice, 
in order to guard these treasures of our national tradition 
and to bear them through the course of time! Banners, 
in whom survive the souls of our departed heroes, one can 
imagine hearing through the rustling of your silk the 

1 Cf . Wechsler, E., Esprit und Geist, dt., SS. 538 ff . 



268 THE FRENCH MIND 

voices of our dead calling the living to march into the 
same perils and toward the same glories. 

"Banners, may the soul of Guynemer eternally repose in 
you! May it, speaking through you to our people, inspire 
us with heroism and thus create new heroes after Guyne- 
mer's own image!" 

Michelet, the historian, who remarks in the preface to his 
principal work that he was the first .to treat France as a per- 
son, declares later in the same study, "England is an empire, 
Germany, a land and a race; but France is a person/' 1 
M. Gabriel Hanotaux, the distinguished French historian 
and a former Minister for Foreign Affairs, summarizing his 
monumental edition of L'Histoirc de la Nation frangaise, pre- 
sents the pageant of national history, in perfectly good faith, 
as the unwavering march of France civilisatrice, France the 
benevolent, self-sacrificing missionary of civilization. 

In a study entitled Esquisse d'une Histoire des Frangais, 
M. Julien Benda gives a very interesting discourse on the 
mystic "will of France" transcendent to the wills of individual 
Frenchmen a concept which M. Benda finds implicit in the 
history of France: 

"France in her will to become a strong united nation has 
made use of the various elements of her population in ac- 
cordance with her needs and their respective talents. Now 
she used her kings and their proprietary instincts in order 
to get for herself both territory and a centralized national 
government; now she employed the nobility, with its chiv- 
alrous and adventurous spirit, in order to start enterprises 
beyond the mountains and over the seas which would add 

1 Histoire de France, Paris, Hachette, 1835, * n livre HI ("Tableaux de 
France"), p. 126, 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 269 

to her aggrandizement. On occasion she called upon her 
middle class, strong in patriotic virtues, to protect her eco- 
nomic wealth by putting a stop to the civil wars under- 
taken by idealists, the League and the Fronde. At other 
times France used her common people and their passion 
for self-abnegation (the armies of Joan of Arc, of the Rev- 
olution, and of 1914) to save her soil from invasion. 

"However, each class of her population has on certain 
occasions shown itself capable of pursuing egotistically its 
own class interest at the expense of the whole. Thus, the 
nobility one day revived in itself the feudal soul and cove- 
nanted with the enemies of France. The bourgeois (in 
1814), placing their own welfare above the interest of 
France, instead of driving out the foreign invaders, sold 
them the supplies of which they were in need. Conse- 
quently, the passions of different groups of Frenchmen 
have constituted a force to be combatted as well as to be 
utilized. On the whole, however, the will of France has 
used the wills of Frenchmen in a manner similar to that 
in which a mammal or a bird uses the wills of its various 
organs. . . . To-repeat, the will of France is, strictly speak- 
ing, transcendent to the wills of Frenchmen. . . . The 
kings, says the historian, have given France her territory. 
The philosopher of history knows that France has merely 
used her kings and their possessive passion in order to get 
territory. And it is indeed pathetic to visualize them, 
Louis the Fat, Philippe-Auguste, and Saint Louis, rushing 
from the Rhine to the ocean, from the Somme to the 
Adouz, bent over the necks of their horses and panting for 
breath, lance in hand, sweat on brow, thinking that they 
were seizing lands for their dynasty. In reality they went 
through all those perilous exertions because the soul of 



270 THE FRENCH MIND 

France was in them and urged them to lay hold on the 
land. Their assignment once carried out and the French 
domain rounded off, France was to take over the land and 
banish the descendants of these very kings." 1 

For each important war the French had a crusader's slogan 
well-adapted to the times. The medieval chronicler speaks of 
"God's deeds through the Franks" (gesta Dei per Francos). 
At the turn of the nineteenth century, which marks the high 
tide of French rationalistic influence, the soldiers of the French 
Revolution were conquering foreign peoples in the name of 
fratcrnitt, subjugating them to the French Eagle for the pur- 
pose of egditt, and disposing of the recalcitrant for the sake 
of libert^. On December 15, 1792, the National Convention 
passed the decree announcing that foreign peoples would be 
welcome to the privileges of French citizenship and the bless- 
ings of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The preamble of the 
decree expatiated upon the principle that peoples have the right 
to determine their allegiance; but on the following day a 
curious footnote was added by a decree to the effect that any- 
one who proposed or attempted separation from France was 
subject to capital punishment. Robespierre, in his address of 
March 8, 1793, before the National Convention, which was in 
a state of anxiety over the bad turn of military events, empha- 
sized "the divine mission of the French nation to bring liberty 
to mankind." 2 In the World War, the pailu was sustained in 
his bravery and self-sacrifice by the belief that he was fighting 
not only for the sacred soil of the motherland, but also for 
civilization menaced by the Teutonic barbarians. 

The philosopher Bergson in his inaugural address * before 

1 Revue de Paris, 15 fevrier 1932; i 61 mars 1932. 

2 Wcndcl, H., Danton, cit. t pp. 209 . 
*In 1918. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 

the French Academy, referring to his predecessor in the chair, 
M. Emile Ollivier, who was Prime Minister of Napoleon III 
at the time of the unlucky Franco-Prussian War, said: 

". . . Into your political retirement you have taken along 
a great hope. I know what has been your hope. You re- 
vealed it yourself to us, when, after the twenty-year-long 
retirement you broke your silence in order to say to the 
French youth: 'No, France is not declining; she is merely 
slumbering and gathering her force. Waiting till she re- 
sumes her goddess-like progression, the nations of the 
world, astonished at not seeing her in the vanguard, are 
asking one another why the darkness of the night en- 
shrouds the world. 5 Your hope has not been vain. The 
night is gone; the darkness has dissipated. When the 
enemy believed he perceived in our land the closing hours 
of the dusk, we were passing through the ever-resplendent 
glory of the dawn. . . . And now listen and hear the 
murmur of admiration running all over the earth. And 
look, too, how all noble peoples rise to salute the nation. 
Bleeding from two great wounds [Alsace and Lorraine], 
France first served die cause of humanity by unmasking 
the powers embodying oppression and hatred [Germany 
and her allies]. Next, standing erect again, she broke, in 
a sublime effort, the impetus of the demon and saved the 
world. France has always been the incarnation of right; 
she has also become a force. Animated by the divine in- 
spiration, she is life and resurrection. Rouse, then, from 
your eternal rest and behold your hope that has become 



true." 1 



1 Servant, Georges, Editor, Les Quarante, Fauteuil VII, Paris, 1928, pp. 
76-77. 



272 THE FRENCH MIND 

Prince Biilow, in his recently published Memoirs, made the 
following observation upon the personality of the first Presi- 
dent of the Third French Republic, M. Adolphe Thiers: 

"The Germans sing their Deutschland, Deutschland 
fiber Alles, while the French actually put France above all 
her national interests, her grandeur and glory. Precisely 
in that regard Adolphe Thiers was a typical Frenchman. 
After, as before, 1871, he did not cease to believe in the 
legitimate predominance of France over other nations. He 
was a spiritual son of Voltaire, very little given to religious 
sentiments; but his faith in France had something of the 
religious element in it." * 

"The Gallic Cock it is that wakes the world," declared Victor 
Hugo in the Ode h la Colonne de la Place Venddme. April 
19, 1852, he wrote from Brussels: "Credo in Deum, in Galliam, 
in Populum" (I believe in God, in Gaul, and in the people) ; 
and in History of a Crime (1877) he declared: 

"When the human mind would see clearly, it turns to 
France. In 1870 Germany cast the world into five months 
of darkness, the world to which France had given four 
centuries of light. Today, more than ever, the civilized 
world has need of France. Her peril was the proof of her 
renown. . . . Paris being threatened, the peoples feared 
decapitation. Would they allow Germany to proceed? 
But France was equal to her own salvation." 



outcome is victory," said M. Clemenceau in the ad- 
dress on June 30, 1919, presenting the Treaty of Versailles 
to the French Chamber for ratification, "in the most noble 

1 Revue de Paris, 15 juin 1936, p. 777. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 273 

sense of the word, victory both in reality and in ideal; victory 
not of individuals, but of France herself . . ." 

Clemenceau, "Father of the Victory," was an agnostic, 1 cold 
and indifferent if not frankly unfriendly to most of his fellow- 
Frenchmen with whom he came in close contact during his 
long and turbulent political life. When he spoke of France, 
however, as a mystic entity, he always found words of unsur- 
passed fervor, the words of a devotee praising his goddess. 
What is still more important, these words proved intelligible 
to the average Frenchman and found echo in his heart. For 
example, in his address at Amiens in 1907 Clemenceau said: 

"If there is a country which has the right to the love of 
its children and gets that love with the very first smile of 
its infants, that country is France, our France of yesterday, 
of today, and of tomorrow; the France of our proud an- 
cestors of all times; the France of our good soldiers, 
fearless and kind, whom even the most implacable 
enemy has never defeated without having at the same time 
admired; the France of our great artisans of thought, mas- 
ters of the most lucid instrument of expression that hu- 
manity has ever possessed; the France of our artists who 
have distinguished themselves in all the domains where 
the superior instinct of the gifted, which perpetually strives 
after simplicity, clarity, and beauty, can express itself; the 
France of our workers of all ranks, who are so obstinate 
in their effort, so prudently devoted to their homes, always 
eager to increase their knowledge, always anxious to refine 

X C. Lloyd George, D., War Memoirs, Boston, Little, Brown & Co., 
1933-1937, Vol. V, p. 357: "Clemenceau . . . would never enter a church. 
His refusal when he paid a visit to Strasbourg after the Armistice to attend 
a celebration of the liberation of Alsace in that glorious cathedral lost him 
the presidentship of the Republic when he was the most popular and power- 
ful man in France." 



274 raCE FRENCH 

themselves and their products, always keen upon novelties 
and yet passionately jealous of the glory of the past, always 
ready to astonish their detractors by spontaneous elevation 
to the summits of inspiration as well as by the graceful 
return to cold reason; the France of the great human 
Renaissance, achieved through the revolution which was 
undertaken in the name of the rights of man and citizen; 
the France of dynamic idealism which has magnificently 
enriched the ancestral treasury of all humanity; finally, the 
France which is the wonderland of the earth, the garden 
of our planet, which attracts even the most indifferent and 
holds him enchanted with the sweet intimacy of her wel- 
come, with the grace and charm of the most lovable envi- 
ronment created to make man happy. We call to witness 
our forefathers and our sons that it will never be tolerated 
that this great and noble France, whose destiny was in- 
trusted to us in the terrible hour of her history, should 
suffer an irreparable offense at the sacrilegious hands of 
an enemy. We will preserve her; we will protect her; 
and we will love her, always striving to leave her to our 
successors greater, more beautiful, and more magnificent. 
We shall bequeath her to the coming generations, together 
with the charge incessantly to increase her beauty." 

Describing the historic meeting of the Chamber of Deputies 
in the afternoon of November n, 1918, General Mordacq, the 
liaison officer between Clemenceau and the Commander-in- 
Chief, writes: 

"In the afternoon of November n, about two-thirty, 
M. Clemenceau asked me to accompany him to the 
Chamber of Deputies, where he was to announce at about 
three o'clock the conditions of the armistice. . . . When 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 275 

M. Clemenceau, surrounded by the members of his min- 
istry, entered the assembly hall, he was met with a gigantic 
ovation. All the deputies were at that moment in the grip 
of an emotion which one cannot describe otherwise than 
'holy' and 'sacred.' Almost all eyes were filled with tears 
at the sight of this old man, who, in the course of the epic 
struggle, had so well personified France, the old nation 
which its enemies had pronounced, a few years earlier, 
senile and feeble, but which had just demonstrated, 
through a magnificent display of strength, that this nation 
had lost nothing of its vigor and its fighting qualities." x 

In his funeral oration upon Clemenceau, M. Bouisson, Presi- 
dent of the Chamber of Deputies, said that "the legend of 
Clemenceau has already passed across the seas, and in the 
schools of America the small children learn how to spell his 
name." However that may be, the children of France will 
long be reading and dreaming of the remarkable wiry little 
old man, who so powerfully contributed to the national salva- 
tion and glory of France at a critical moment of her history. 
The children of France are learning and will be learning from 
his words and deeds, and especially from the closing chapter 
of his life's story, powerful lessons in political mysticism. 
Clemenceau died in a jealously preserved loneliness, embittered 
by the ungrateful citizens who defeated him, "Father of the 
Victory" and Pater Patriot, in the presidential election of 1919, 
yet a loving son of France until death in fact, beyond death. 
In accordance with his will, he was buried in the soil of his 
native Vendee, his coffin placed upright in the grave. "There 
he stands, clad all in gray, an ever-vigilant though invisible 

1 General Mordacq, La verite sur I* armistice, Paris, Editions Jules Tal- 
landier, 1929, p. 116. 



276 THE FRENCH MIND 

sentry of France," as he was designated in the necrology of 
Le Temps, "intensely alert to the slightest danger that may 
threaten the motherland, and having no rest in his eternal 
watch other than listening to the sea and the land of Vendee, 
as they converse mystically about the splendid past, the present, 
and the future of France. To the defense of the glory of 
France he is ever ready to call her children with a voice made 
more powerful and irresistible by legend." 

If the old Jacobin spirit of the agnostic Clemenceau helped 
to sustain the will to victory in a country that was invaded by 
a powerful enemy and bled by many battles, the military talent 
of Marshal Foch, a profound believer in God and a good 
Catholic, led the French and the Allied troops on the Western 
Front out of the defeat of March-May, 1918, to the victory of 
July-November, 1918. It is instructive to note how that out- 
standing French soldier was steeled for his crushing respon- 
sibility by a political mysticism, blended with religious faith. 

In his address on February 5, 1920, before the French Acad- 
emy, where he came to take his place among the "Immortals," 
Marshal Foch said: 

"In the time of Louis XIV the Doge of Venice came to 
Versailles to negotiate. What most astonished the Vene- 
tian amidst the magnificences of that great reign was to be 
in their midst himself. My astonishment is as great at see- 
ing myself in this illustrious assembly. But I am sure you 
wanted over and above my person to acclaim the glorious 
phalanxes that have held their own in the fierce unceasing 
battle of more than four long years, through the rigors of 
the seasons, through hardships and sacrifices unknown to 
the past. You wanted to honor the Soul of the Mother- 
land that soared above this grandeur of duty accepted by 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 277 

all, this sublimity of persistent tenacity and of unanimous 
passion for victory at any price." 

According to the accounts of those who were near him dur- 
ing his command, the Marshal, while forging and executing 
his plans for victory, sought strength of spirit and firmness of 
decision in his daily prayers. Colonel T. Bentley Mott, the 
liaison officer between General Pershing and Marshal Foch, 
states that he saw the Marshal go every day to the little church 
of Bombon to pray. On one occasion, he relates, Clemenceau 
came unexpectedly to the Marshal's headquarters at Bombon 
and asked to be shown to the Marshal. An officer on duty 
told him that Marshal Foch was at church, adding: "I will go 
at once and tell him you are here." "Do not interrupt him for 
anything in the world it agrees with him so well," answered 
the old unbeliever. Colonel Mott, in this connection, makes 
the following interesting observation: 

"The Marshal certainly felt a profound satisfaction when 
success crowned one of his plans, but if at any time he 
spoke of such matters to one of us, we seemed to be listen- 
ing to some impersonal force expressing itself rather than 
to a man telling about what he had done." x 

Of the Commander-in-Chiefs devotions M. J. Rouch has 
written: 

"In the opinion of my comrade Fouault, who for a long 
time had been closely associated with General Foch, it was 
indisputable that the General drew from the mystic side 
of his character that self-confidence which is so necessary 
for those who shape and direct such great events. Neither 

1 Translator's Introduction to The Memoirs of Marshal Foch, New York, 
Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1931, pp. xxiv-xxv. 

NM-IQ 



278 THE FRENCH MIND 

the politician nor the statesman has such a heavy respon- 
sibilityat any rate not such a direct responsibility as the 
Commander-in-Chief, who decides that on a given day and 
at a given hour some hundreds of thousands of men shall 
offer themselves to death. The General's profound reli- 
gious faith, the hour that he spent daily in prayer and 
meditation, generally in a poor half-abandoned village 
church, undoubtedly helped him to make decisions of that 
character. A legislator or a diplomat can afford to be 
skeptical, and to regard their activities as merely relative 
in character; but one who has the power to command his 
fellowmen to die must believe in the absolute." * 

General Mordacq records a confession from the Marshal 
himself that throws light upon his inner life and the political 
and religious mysticism that influenced him so profoundly: 

"When I have a few minutes of liberty in a day, I spend 
those few precious minutes in that building [the church], 
I think I am a bad Christian, because often instead of pray- 
ing I let myself meditate, and of course my meditations 
turn around profane subjects to be exact, around the 
operations for which I am preparing. But I am sure that 
the Lord will forgive me. At all events, when I come out 
of this temple I feel stronger, and above all less hesitant 
as to my operations. And very often it is in the church 
that I arrive at the most important decisions regarding the 



war." 2 



The postwar cult of the Unknown Soldier is a striking 
crystallization of patriotic mysticism. The national emotion 

1 "Souvenirs sur le Marechal Foch," Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 mai 
1932, p. 344- 

2 General Mordacq, "Pouvait-on signer 1'armistice a Berlin?" Revue des 
Deux Mondes, 15 decembre 1929, p. 768. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 279 

symbolized by the perpetual fire beneath the Arc de Triomphe 
finds tender expression in Clemenceau's France Facing Ger- 
many: 

"I traversed the battlefield of the Marne; and there I 
found him, this anonymous hero, who asks for none of our 
empty-sounding, conventional eulogies, being content with 
the green mound beneath which he has sunk to sleep in 
the vision of a glorious exertion which even death could 
not weaken. This soil which has taken him back was his 
merciful foster mother, tender and rough at once. Per- 
haps he cherished her no less for her rigors than for her 
sweet charity in his last hour." * 

Or to say it in the words of a poet: 

"We'll ne'er know aught of him, neither his age nor name, 
Nor place he called home, in town or countryside; 
Whether from East or West, or North or South he came; 
Well ne'er know aught of him, save this alone, he died. 

"We'll ne'er know aught of him, save this that in defense 
Of his forefather's soil, he proudly rose and went; 
That for a Frenchman's death, France is the recompense, 
On whose warm heart forever laid, he rests in peace con- 



tent." 2 



An impressive instance of political mysticism is provided by 
the will of Marshal Lyautey, the conquerer and pacificator 
of Morocco. The Marshal, who desired to serve his country 
even in his grave, gave the instruction that his body be taken 
to Morocco and buried at Rabat. A moving description of 
the funeral ceremony published in the Revue des Deux Mondes 

1 P.3"- 

2 "Le soldat Inconnu," from Bollaert, A., Le Poilu de I'Etoik. 



280 THE FRENCH MIND 

closes with these words: "Now all was finished. Nay, this is 
a great beginning. Such is the course of great destinies." x 

There is historical foundation, then, for the observation of 
Marshal Foch:^"Our rationalism compounds well with mys- 
ticism." 2 Its aptness, however, is limited to occasions of grave 
national crises. It is said that by the time the French had 
reached Verdun in each disastrous retreat they were perfectly 
united. During the World War, to be sure, many a French 
skeptic and nihilistic dilettante of various degree and color of 
non-conf ormism vied in patriotic fervor. They were seized by 
that same great pity for the land of France which once in- 
spired Joan of Arc, the peasant girl from Lorraine. M. Andre 
Gide, the relativistic thinker, wrote to a friend while waiting 
for military summons, "I am giving my whole heart and all 
my time to the refugees." In Le retour de VEnjant Prodigue, 
this skeptical author makes the Enfant Prodigue exhort the 
young brother, who is departing for deeds of glory, "Go . . . 
Be strong; forget us. . . ." 3 

As M. Poincare records in his diary September i, 1914: 
"Anatole France, the nihilist-dilettante, has now become a pas- 
sionate chauvinist, although no one knows for how long a 
time; he has applied to us for an authorization to serve as a 
simple soldier." * It may be remembered that Anatole France 
was seventy years old at the time. During his long life, each 
time that the bugle sounded, mournfully or triumphantly, this 
gifted skeptical voluptuary stepped out of his slippers and 
skeptical indifference to mingle with his less sophisticated 

1 Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 novembre, 1935, p. 471. 
2 L0 psychologie du commandement avec plusieurs lettres inedites du 
Marechal Foch, Paris, Flammarion, 1924, p. 101. 

3 See Pierre-Quinet, L., Andre Gide, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1934, 
p. 65. 

4 Op. cit. t t V, p. 227. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 28l 

fellow-countrymen; he became then a simple and devoted 
son of France, placing his literary talent on the altar of the 
Patrie. In such a moment he wrote the beautiful mystic- 
anthropomorphic Message of the French Village to Its Chil- 
dren: 

"See, I am old, but I am beautiful. My devout children 
have embroidered my robe with towers, steeples, crenelated 
battlements and belfries. I am a good mother; I teach in- 
dustry and all the arts of peace. I nurse my children in 
my arms. Then, their task done, they go to sleep, one 
after another, under the grass which is cropped by the 
sheep. They pass, but I stay to guard their memory. I 
am their record. They owe everything to me, for man is 
man only because he remembers. My robe has been torn 
and my bosom pierced in war. I have received wounds 
which were called mortal, but I have lived because I have 
hoped. Learn of me that blessed hope that saved the 
fatherland. Turn your thought to me so as to think be- 
yond yourselves. Look at this fountain, this hospital, this 
market that the fathers have bequeathed to their children. 
Work for your children as your ancestors have worked for 
you. Each of my stones brings you a benefit and teaches 
you a duty. See my cathedral, my guildhall, my Hotel- 
Dieu, and venerate the past. But think of the future. 
Your sons will know what jewels you, in your time, have 
set in my robe of stone." x 

M. Raymond Poincare (d. 1934) himself is an impressive 
example of a Frenchman who, though devoid of all religious 
or philosophical mysticism, was eminently capable of political 

1 Translated by Albert Shinz in Current History, December, 1927, "Ana- 
tole France." 



THE FRENCH Mlttft 

mysticism. The following recent appraisal of the personality 
of that statesman deserves to be cited: 

"In the maturity of age and thought, Poincare was not 
a spiritualist. He did not believe in the existence of either 
God or soul, or, naturally, in the future life. He did not 
feel tempted even to muse about these supernatural reali- 
ties or give them the benefit of a doubt. He did not reason 
about such matters as did his cousin, Henri Poincare, who, 
according to the testimony of Barres, used to say, after he 
had abandoned the strict positivism to which he adhered 
in his youth: 'If nothing supports our hopes for a life 
yonder, nothing invalidates them. When nostalgia com- 
mands us to hope, it does not in any way diminish the dig- 
nity of human reason/ No, Raymond Poincare would rest 
his ultimate confidence upon nothing but human reason 
and science. 

"From these two factors he expected, with a kind of 
integral optimism, an infinite progress of mankind, and 
not only material and intellectual progress but also moral 
progress. He refused to be impressed with the old Chris- 
tian adage, 'Science without conscience is the ruination of 
the soul.' On the contrary, he was convinced that knowl- 
edge naturally leads man to action and that science will 
be able to furnish for the universal morality an ever new 
foundation, more solid than the traditional one. 'From 
the concordant actions of the Universities of France, a 
general orientation of ideas, a general direction for minds 
will result, which will produce in the social life of the 
commonwealth an ever-greater degree of intellectual and 
moral advancement/ . . . 

"But whenever he spoke of France, he always found 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 283 

terms vibrating with the tenderest of affections. Without 
falling into banality and affectation of tone and into 
hackneyed phraseology that froth of patriotic demonstra- 
tions M. Poincare would attribute to France soul and 
voice. . . . 

"He said: 'If doubt should obsess me, I would simply 
ask France to come to my support and to comfort me. 
Day and night I feel myself in her presence. The more 
she suffers, the more she appears to me a concrete being, 
a living person, with so dear, familiar face. I see her 
standing erect under the blows and wounds of 1870, calm, 
proud, and determined. I hear her speak to me in a tone 
that excludes all denial: "Since it was I who placed you in 
the post which you have accepted, you must give an 
example, remain at your post, steadfast until the end." * 

"This ardent patriotism embraced France as a whole, 
both in space and in time, the France of all centuries, and 
of all political regimes. In this regard, Poincar6 was de- 
cidedly ahead of the times; he did not believe, as a great 
many of his political friends do, that the worthwhile his- 
tory of France began with the Revolution. 

"He never missed an occasion to dwell on the continuity 
of French thought and the French motherland. He would 
say: The soul of the nation, while it has developed, has 
never changed. It has preserved its intimate substance 
throughout the centuries. The present, far from exclud- 
ing the past, comprises it. The nation which is the most 
worthy of having its hopes fulfilled, is the nation that is 
animated with the highest respect for its memories.' " x 

x Payen, F., 'Trois aspects de Raymond Poincare," Revue des Deux 
Mondes, i** mars 1936, pp. 71 ff.; for a more detailed study of the per- 
sonality of M. Raymond Poincar6 see the same author's Raymond Poincare: 



284 THE FRENCH MIND 

The ability for practicing political mysticism in daily life, 
when such an ability is combined with a lack of all religious 
or philosophical mysticism, is a rare capacity. It was fully 
possessed by M. Raymond Poincare; but the average French- 
man, absorbed in the routine of the daily struggle for existence, 
is not moved by transcendent nationalism or political mys- 
ticism, unless that mysticism strikes root in philosophical or 
religious sentiment and in the resulting habit of responding 
to the motivation of transcendent values. 

As a consequence of the skepticism of rationalistic France, 
a greater degree of mystical impoverishment is to be found in 
that country in time of peace, at any rate than in England 
or Germany. This impoverishment leads to indifference or 
hostility toward the eternal moral values, to lack of faith in 
supernatural reality, and to the negation or weakening of 
basic loyalties. Emphasis upon material satisfactions results; it 
feeds social strife from above and below, encouraging the 
hedonistic egoism of the rich and sharpening the corroding 
envy of the less fortunate. 

Such mystical impoverishment is doubly dangerous today, 
when "mechanism" can readily become fatal to both rich and 
poor, unless it is corrected and moderated by mysticism. The 
machine has erected a wall between employers and employees; 
it brutally tends to supersede the human value of the worker. 
It has, on the other hand, created an exaggerated belief in the 
possibility of an almost unlimited satisfaction of the unbridled 
material desires of men. In reality, as any thoughtful person 
can readily see, the material wishes of men, unless reasonably 
restricted, will inevitably outdistance the material possibilities 
of satisfaction; this, despite the invention of new and the per- 

I'homme, le parlementaire, I'avocat, avec de nombreux documents inedits, 
Paris, Grasset, 1935. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 285 

f ection of old mechanical means of production. The machine 
must be saved itself and prevented from playing havoc with 
mankind by relieving the continuous disproportion between 
the supply and distribution of machine-made goods, on the 
one hand, and the growth of actual or imaginary material 
needs of mankind, on the other. Organic discord between 
man and machine can be dispelled only by mysticism, by the 
otherworldliness which is generated by the perception of 
spiritual values and by the recognition of the immortal soul 
as a part of the spiritual infinite. 

Unless the search for spiritual satisfaction, which is to be 
found in religious contemplation and in disinterested service, 
mitigates and moderates the search and striving for material 
satisfactions, there can be no escape from the chaos of revo- 
lution. The sense of duty functions only in proportion as the 
individual is motivated by loyalties which transcend his per- 
sonal satisfactions and which he cherishes above life itself. A 
civilization, no matter how brilliant and mighty, if not sup- 
ported by the hard muscles of a rigorous sense of duty and the 
backbone of sound moral ideals, is a giant with legs of clay; 
mere form of government, however generously democratic, 
cannot prevent or cure moral cancers. Of all forms of gov- 
ernment, liberal democracy can endure least when it tends to 
become a mere agglomeration of appetites and egoisms. 

Faith in some transcendent reality is the soil in which a 
steady, fruitful sense of duty and sacrifice strike root. Only 
through a sense of the mystical transcendent can faithful lead- 
ers be brought up to serve the nation- What is still more im- 
portant, only with the help of mysticism can millions of anony- 
mous heroes of duty be reconciled to the humble, constant 
sacrifice of individual will and material satisfactions for the 
good of others, and in particular of society as a whole- Such 



286 THE FRENCH MIND 

sacrifice constitutes true human dignity, however unnoticed 
by the world, and is the only guarantee of stability for the na- 
tion and for society. It is particularly vital for a rationalistic 
nation that a saving remnant of its people realize, to borrow 
the excellent words of Amiel, "that a free mind is a great thing 
surely, but elevation of heart, belief in the good, the capacity 
for enthusiasm and devotion, the thirst for perfection and 
sanctity is a still finer thing." 1 

Failure to maintain moral equilibrium between individual 
interests and social loyalties has resulted in the widespread 
political and economic unrest of the age. Not in France alone 
has moral unbalance whetted, if it has not in truth generated, 
political and economic conflicts. No country has escaped or 
can escape the consequences of "mechanism" and materialism 
which have so widely usurped the rightful place of mysticism. 
On the other hand, in spite of the fact that France is more 
nearly self-sustaining and enjoys better economic balance than 
England, for example, her lack of political equilibrium is acute. 
This is reflected in bitter political fights over the problems of 
distribution of worldly goods and satisfactions, and also in the 
loss of a national sense of duty and of political moderation. 
Such is the price of rationalism when it is not adequately 
moderated by mysticism. The fear of Germany, which France 
has recently shown on more than one occasion despite the 
formidable Maginot line of fortifications, seems to be out of all 
proportion to the difference in the material strength of each of 
the two countries. In fact, numerical strength, to say nothing 
of her material resources in general, is heavily in favor of 
France if France's near-by African possessions are taken into 
account. The disproportionate fear of Germany is to be ex- 
plained by the internal dissensions of France and the moral 

1 Op. dt. t pp. 598-599- 



POLITICAL RATIONALIS]^ 287 

enfeeblcment of the country, which arise from the excesses of 
rationalism and the resulting mystical impoverishment. 

The rationalist is disinclined to deal in mystical values; he 
is easily disconcerted by irrational phenomena and fears to 
venture into that world of the spirit where his analytical yard- 
stick does not apply. In consequence, the rationalist inevitably 
suffers from lack of spiritual bearing. As M. Andre Gide 
writes of one of his characters: 

". . . He would like to have some sublime, rare experi- 
encehear a message from the world beyond send his 
thought flying into ethereal regions, inaccessible to mortal 
senses. But no! his thought remains obstinately groveling 
on the earth." * 

The rationalist hopes, as did Rabelais, that reason will teach 
men to be good, to prefer noble pleasures to base enjoyments, 
to place science at the service of action, and action at the service 
of the general good. This rationalistic optimism is, however, 
seldom justified. In the absence of mystical experience and 
transcendent loyalties and attachments even the exceptional 
individual may be expected to lapse into pantagruelismc 
living one's life "in pleasure, peace, joy, good health, always 
giving oneself the delights of good eating and drinking . . ." 2 
undisturbed by the exacting voice of conscience. 

This national self-indulgence is responsible for the fact that 
France has been subjected to so much of that kind of leader- 
ship which Taine, speaking of the management of the internal 
affairs of France, described as the work of egoism served by 
genius. Rationalistic "clear ideas" degenerate into a chaos of 



Faux-Monnayeurs, Paris, Gallimard, 1925, p. 59. 
2 Cf . Lanson, G., Histoire de la litterature jranqaise, Paris, Hachette, pp. 
255 ff. 



288 THE IftENCH MIND 

clear ideas, unless they are sifted and classified with the help 
of a clear scale of transcendent values. 

Many a citizen of the Third Republic has been sadly dis- 
oriented and robbed of wholesome mysticism by the fight 
against the Church, conducted by powerful leaders, who have 
confused, whether deliberately or not, clericalism and religion. 
He has been simultaneously subjected to the influence of 
naturalistic realism in literature, represented, for instance, by 
Stendhal, Zola, and their school, and characterized by moral 
indifference and exaggerated belief in the power of the natural 
sciences to give mankind a satisfying life. 

Even in a very sketchy survey of the literary influences that 
have contributed to the mystical impoverishment of the French 
nation, scientism in literature must not be overlooked. This 
is the literary reflection of the belief that the universe, inclusive 
of man's mind, is totally material, soulless, mechanistic, and, 
therefore, explicable in the mechanistic terms of the mathe- 
matical-natural sciences. Happily for France, this literary 
trend, with its concomitant moral indifference, is opposed from 
time to time by a definite spiritualism. An interesting case 
in point is that of M. Paul Bourget, who for many years was 
one of the leading lights of the scientific movement in litera- 
ture. In his early years he turned away from the romantic, 
disturbing "songs of the nightingale, the plaintive singer of 
springtime," and devoted his literary talent to the preaching 
of mechanistic materialistic scientism. In the last period of 
his long literary career, M. Paul Bourget arrived, however, at 
the conclusion that science was impotent to answer, or to 
explain away, the anxious metaphysical questionings of man, 
who is a being incurably haunted by the desire to know the 
ultimate truth and reality. This brilliant writer returned to 
the fold of mystic faith and in his address before the French 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 289 

Academy in January, 1914, denounced the presumptions and 
false "scientism of the age." 1 Not unlike Ariste of Male- 
branche's Entretiens sur la Metaphysiquc, he had rediscovered 
the value of mystic faith as an indispensable guide and inspira- 
tion: 

"Ariste. I have covered much ground, Theodor, since 
I have parted from you. I have discovered a great deal 
of new territory, while I passed in review all the data 
of my senses. . . , Though already more or less accus- 
tomed to discoveries that await one on this road, never 
was I more surprised in my life. Great God! what a 
poverty I found where I had seen only magnificence be- 
fore you opened my eyes; on the other hand, what wisdom, 
grandeur and marvels I detected in what the world de- 
spises! No, the man who sees with his physical eyes alone 
can but remain a total stranger in the midst of his own 
home land." 2 

But conversions like that of M. Paul Bourget, from the ex- 
cesses of proud rationalism to the humility of mystic faith, 
though refreshing examples of returning sanity and of in- 
corruptible intellectual probity, can hardly efface the harm 
which talented literary propagandists of the materialistic out- 
look upon life inflict upon their more impressionable readers. 

French literary genre, animated by the doctrine inherited 
from Moliere that comedy is essential to the correction of 
human morals, that there is no truth without the element of 
the comical and no true comedy without the element of truth, 
has continued to be an aesthetic delight and moral purge to 
the French and to the world at large. The successors of 

^Bidou, H., 'Taul Bourget," Revue de Paris, 15 Janvier 1936, pp. 457 if. 
2 Malebrapche, Qevvres, Paris, Charpentier, 1871, t I, p. 96. 



THE FRENCH MIND 

Moliere and La Fontaine, those masters unsurpassed in depict- 
ing the rich variety of man's earthly experiences with an en- 
chanting admixture of finesse and malice, sensibility and con- 
cision, suavity and gravity, gaiety and grandeur, combine, with 
subtle art, the most sophisticated entertainment with a sound 
moral castigation. 

On the other hand, only too many French writers, with or 
without Anatole France's soft-spoken grace, employ them- 
selves in ridiculing the sound bourgeois respect for the funda- 
mentals of sound morality. This corrosive flippancy, for the 
most part idle and self-indulgent, has destroyed the faith and 
ardor of many a simple man, offering no constructive substi- 
tute for the old loyalties and idealism which religious mysti- 
cism inspires. Such a "laughter of monkeys perched on the 
crest of destruction," as Alfred de Musset has pointedly de- 
scribed it, when armed with the weapons of subtle literary 
talent, readily leads to the weakening of the sense of personal 
duty in the masses of citizenry, to lack of discipline, to sterile 
opposition and selfish individualism, and to the dissolution of 
the social group into mutually hostile egoisms, unless such 
influences are counteracted by mystic faith and the resulting 
transcendent loyalties. 

Certainly, there are in France men and women who enjoy 
an equilibrium between reason and faith; who, to paraphrase 
Ren6 Bazin, 1 think freely, talk frankly, mock crude mystifica- 
tions, and yet are entirely capable of the faith that unites a 
people and of the transcendent loyalty to the eternal values 
that raises men to the higher, purer strata of emotion and 
action. On the other hand, excessive rationalism, intrigued 
by literary finesse and by the sophisticated blandishments of 

1 Bazin, R.> Lss QberU, "Le retour," Paris, Cslmann-Levy, 1912, 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 

skepticism, subtly rejects personal responsibility; it manifests 
itself in France at the present time in national disruption re- 
sulting from a thoroughly egotistical and hedonistic indi- 
vidualism, to which the growing influence of Marxism as re- 
flected in recent elections bears witness. The danger of what 
M. Paul Valery aptly termed "dtsordre en profondeuS' 1 as- 
sumes uncomfortable dimensions. 

To borrow from the reflections upon the condition of his 
own country made by M. Jules Sauerwein, the keen foreign 
editor of the Paris-Soir, in a comment upon the civil war in 
Spain: 

"Behind the fragile deceptive facade of negotiations and 
treaties a spiritual drama is rending Europe. The great 
doctrine of liberty and fraternity, which the French revolu- 
tion inherited from Christianity, no longer has any force, 
because it has been deprived of all spiritual content. 
French liberalism has fallen into such a state of pure ma- 
terialism that Europe, which can no longer run upon that 
great track, is now moving between two precipices, which 
drop into equally diabolical phenomena. 

"On the one hand, racial and national pride has pushed 
some nations into fanaticism which has become dangerous 
for their neighbors, and on the other hand, hatred of tradi- 
tion and old idols is giving aid to the illusive doctrine of 
communistic equality." 2 

All that can be said on the subject of the mystical impover- 
ishment of France and its causes and effects, is not, of course, 
a revelation to any sound, thoughtful, patriotic, democratically 

1 "Discours en 1'honneur de Goethe, prononce le 30 avril 1932," Oeuvres, 
cit., t. 5, p. 91. 

2 Boston Herald, July 27, 1936. 



THE FRENCH MIND 

minded Frenchman. In recent years voices of protest have 
been raised ever more often in the moderate press by civil and 
military leaders, by professional educators, and by public- 
spirited commentators on current affairs. The attention of the 
nation has repeatedly been called to the political and moral 
confusion of public opinion. Public authorities have been 
exhorted to fulfil their duty regarding the restoration of the 
"mystique du patriotism? et de la defence nationale" This 
appeal, caveant consults, still remains in large measure un- 
heeded, because of the opposition on the part of selfish and 
corrupt politicians and demagogues. Definite trends toward 
moral equilibrium are, however, clearly perceptible, and will 
produce their effect in time, perhaps stimulated by the fear of 
those millions of Germans united in patriotic frenzy around 
their Nazi Fiihrer. 

Among these trends toward a greater harmony between 
negative and positive aspects of rationalism, between science 
and faith, between "mechanism" and mysticism, there must 
be mentioned a new and promising emphasis, both in philos- 
ophy and literature, upon the metaphysical search for tran- 
scendent values. 

In the past French scholars and the educated classes have 
seldom conceived of philosophy as a metaphysical search for 
the ultimate reality. Philosophy has been traditionally treated 
"as wisdom distilled from the experience of life and from 
knowledge of the world, or as a lever of political emancipa- 
tion, or as the ally of natural science. . . . The great French 
metaphysicians Malebranche, Maine de Biran, Hamelin, to 
name only a few lived in great seclusion and never came into 
contact with the intellectual movement of their time." * Re- 

1 The Civilization of France, "An Introduction by- Ernst Robert Curtius," 
New York, The Macmillan Company, 1932, pp. 99 f. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 293 

cently, however, metaphysical anxieties have found, again, 
able and sincere spokesmen among French philosophers- 
Maurice Blondel, Jacques Paliard, Le Senne, and others of 
whom M. Blondel is the recognized leader. These philosophers 
stress the existence of a reality superior to the empirical order. 
They recognize the failure of reason as the sole guide in life; 
they expose the deficiency of doctrines which, under the pre- 
text of fidelity to objective reality, limit themselves to the 
material, scientifically knowable aspects of the universe a 
mutilated philosophy engrossed with an incomplete reality. 
Professor Andre Lalande defines this new tendency as 
"Blondelian influence doubtless tinged with Bergson's," and, 
surveying the work of the year 1934-1935, concludes: 

"One of the most striking characteristics of French 
philosophy this year, is the number and importance of 
works inspired by spiritualism or even frankly religious 
interests. True, this spiritualism is no longer the same 
as that of Maine de Biran, of Cousin or of Ravaisson. It 
seems to me, however, that it retains the same essential 
tendencies." l 

Spiritualistic trends in French literature have also been 
gathering momentum since the World War. The brutal com- 
ing of the war, its savage course, and its cruelly harassing 
aftermath, characterized by the acute ambiguity of the inter- 
national situation, which is neither that of war nor peace, 
has brought home to more than one gifted man of letters in 
rationalistic France that reason and logic alone are unable 
either to create lasting human values or to preserve them 
from the complex, heartless, blind forces which operate in the 

1 Lalande, A., "Philosophy in France," The Philosophical Review, January, 
1936, p. 4. 



294 THE FRENCH MIND 

life of human individuals and collectivities. An increasing 
number of people are coming to the realization that these 
forces can best be controlled by the co-operation between 
science and idealism. As a result of this new insight into what 
perhaps is the real source of the world's troubles, a new wave 
of mystic romanticism, not dissimilar to that which came in the 
wake of the Napoleonic Wars, is making itself felt in French 
literature. This revolt against cold and arrogant reason first 
passed, however, through the surrealisme and dadaisme of 
the pre-war days, which preached in essence the apotheosis 
of unreason. 

As is usual in intellectual and moral movements, this new 
trend in literature announced itself by contrast and opposition 
to the outstanding standard-bearer of an earlier movement. 
Thus young neo-romanticists of France set themselves to de- 
throne Anatole France himself, that "smiling skeptic," who 
carried the rationalistic skeptical cl&rtf, "to a point of nauseat- 
ing perfection"; whose pages are, in the judgment of the 
younger generation, "at once, perfectly lucid and perfectly 
empty." His work was declared to be the polished pearl, not 
possessing the nutritive qualities of the tiniest millet seed. "We 
are hungry, and we are thirsty. Anatole France is a diet of 
hors d'oeuvres!" complained a spokesman of youth, suffering 
from nostalgia for metaphysical truth. There is a note of 
anger in this sweeping indictment: 

"Ah, no, indeed, I cannot, I will not call him: Master! 
There is in such an appellation something grave and lofty 
to which this low spirit never attained. ... He is a vase 
empty. A trinket that might catch and hold for an in- 
stant, but which is incapable of getting any man in his 
guts. This formal perfection lacks depth and sap. Empty! 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 2Q5 

Everything is empty, in him and around him. His books 
trickle through your fingers like sand. His work is built 
on sand. 

"He is a plane surface one dimension only. Today, 
this dubitative, negative side of his intelligence looks so 
cheap to us. It is really a little too simple! 

"Memory alone functions in his universe. Reminis- 
cences assembled with taste. No, I certainly do not deny 
the taste. I do not deny -the grace, the agility of mind, the 
happy mannerisms, the limpidity of language, the harmony 
and the honey; but I say that all these virtues are void of 
substance and of marrow, isolated and sterile, and I will 
have none of them! 

"This skeptic, this amiable skeptic leaves me cold. It 
is for passion that I am passionate. I am mad for opti- 
mism, for faith, for ardor. . . ." x 

This search for a wider, deeper, and fresher universe than 
the materialistic-mechanistic cosmos of scientism, and the re- 
flection of this search in the mystic, romantic trends of post- 
war literature were given the following interesting appraisal 
in a paper by M. Marcel Frangon: 

"The problems of destiny are now most important. 
Everywhere in literature, one feels an interest in meta- 
physical questions. I think it was Anatole France who 
said: In my time, the young people who wanted to be- 
come writers, went back to the class of rhetoric; today 
they go back to the class of philosophy.' I think that most 
people now have a great disgust for literature when that 
word means nothing more than a formal exercise or a jug- 

'Delteil, J., "Anatole France," in The European Caravan, New York, 
Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1931, pp. 26 ff., 163 ff. 



296 THE FRENCH MIND 

gling with words. That an author like Anatole France, 
who was considered an idol by the generation born around 
1870, seems now so antiquated is very characteristic. In 
reading 'Le Lys Rouge/ for instance, one cannot help 
having the impression that the book belongs to a past 
age. . . . When an author declares that life for him is a 
spectacle which he looks on and is amused by, as a 
theatre-goer who seeks diversion, the cynicism of that 
man is hateful to us. In the same way as Musset insults 
the grinning mask of Voltaire, one would like to treat 
France with his mellifluous, cowardly, and false smile. 
The generation of today is tormented by the desire of the 
absolute, by the idea of infinity; they cannot trifle with 
their life and those of others; they are looking for an 
answer to the questions which are vital for them. 

"I should like to point out a sentence written by one of 
our most representative writers: 1 hope, I believe that they 
will make the share of the soul in literature and in the 
arts greater than it is.' Duhamel has thus expressed the 
contrast between the pre-war authors and the new gen- 
eration which is preoccupied with philosophical, meta- 
physical and social anxieties. The writers of today qi 
at arousing interest in the significance of life. They want 
the readers to think of the eternal problems which con- 
front man, the origin of the notions of good and evil, the 
idea of God, the value of civilization, the conflict between 
the soul and the body. While the writers of the older 
generation described complacently light adventures of love, 
mere satisfactions of the senses or worldly affairs, the 
writers of today seem all to be interested in the moral sig- 
nificance of what takes place around them. It is with 
anguish that one comes in contact with life; no longer do 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 97 

the younger people want to shut their eyes, in order to be 
at peace, to enjoy without disturbance, a comfortable and 
flabby existence. . . . 

"The religious questions are foremost in the minds of 
many. It is amazing to see the number of conversions. 
I need not recall the conversion to Catholicism of people 
like Jean Cocteau, Henri Gheon, and many others. Some 
books like Sous le soldi dc Satan by Bernanos, or Job le 
Prtdestine by Baumann, many novels of Mauriac show 
plainly enough the interest in mysticism and relig- 
iosity. . . . 

"Another sign of discontent is the refuge in dreams 
and fantastic stories. The literature of today is replete 
with such works; we might cite the novels of men like 
Giraudoux, Alain Founder, as well as the adventure 
novels of Mac Orlan and Chadourne. Indeed, in some of 
those novels, like Le Mcdtre du Natrire by Pierre Chad- 
ourne, the adventure story is a pretext for discussing 
the general questions of Good and Evil, God, the Law, 
primitive civilization, the modern taboos, the idea of 



sin." 1 



Friends of France will follow with much hopeful interest 
the new spiritualistic trends in French philosophy and litera- 
ture, illustrative of the search for the eternal values on the 
part of the new generation. In the meantime, while France 
is on the way to another surge of moral redressement, her 
rationalism generates a peculiarly French quality which 
compensates, in a degree, for the nation's mystical impoverish- 
ment. This quality consists in "a kind of matter-of-fact accept- 
ance of life" which charmed Aline, a character of Sherwood 

1 "Tendencies in the French Literature of To-Day," The Modern Lan- 
guage Journal, March 1931, pp. 419 ff. 



THE FRENCH MIND 

Anderson's, and which powerfully contributes to the emotional 
equilibrium of the individual and the nation. 1 

SYSTEMS C AND D 

There are two other national traits, which we shall briefly 
analyze, that must be taken into consideration in the evalua- 
tion of the national character. During the World War one of 
these traits was ironically known to the men in the trenches 
as "sysieme D." The term was derived from dSbrouill&rd, and 
was applied to the complex art of improvising solutions for 
individual problems of equipment and combat, to the resource- 
fulness and wit displayed by the French soldiers and subalterns 
in crises for which their superior officers had neglected prop- 
erly to equip and instruct their men. By analogy, we shall 
designate as System C another characteristically French trait, 
which was clearly manifested in the conduct of the World 
War, namely, that inclination on the part of the .French High 
Command to condition strategy upon a theoretical certainty, 
which is so difficult to approximate in warfare and which can 
readily lead to self-defeat. 

Man's faith, instead of always remaining the great creative 
factor, sometimes betrays him into the impasse of stubborn, 
sterile dogmaticism. Similar frustration befalls human rea- 
son much more readily and frequently. Reason can, indeed, 
and only too often does, decline into fruitless and self-defeat- 
ing anxiety for unobtainable rational evidence and proof, 
which can easily paralyze action or at least take out of it its 
real muscle, so to speak. 

The rationalistic Frenchman not infrequently suffers from 
financial myopia; the dollar of the day so frequently looks to 
Laughter, Grosset & Dunlap, 1925, p. 167. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 299 

him bigger than the fortune of the future.! Anything beyond 
the horizon of his homeland and its most palpable interna- 
tional interests may be an interesting subject of conversation 
to the average Frenchman, but does not attract the invest- 
ment of his energies and savings. As a consequence, the 
French have poorly exploited, on the whole, the riches of 
their colonies. Indeed, France has let some of her colonies 
fall from her lap and has failed to lay hold upon others that 
might well have been hers colonies which today would be 
invaluable in maintaining that balance of power in which her 
safety lies* Even so bright a man as Voltaire referred to 
Canada as a few rods of snow and believed that the best em- 
ployment of the nation's energy was to cultivate its own little 
garden. Small wonder, then, that France "gave away half 
the North American continent while England, and later Amer- 
ica, blindly, vaguely, by no means knowing what they were 
doing, took it over." * The genius of the Frenchman Lesseps 
conceived the two most important canals of the world, the 
Suez and the Panama. Both of these fell, however, into pos- 
session of competitors of France, because Lesseps was not" 
properly supported by his sedentary, unadventurous nation of 
rationalists, fond of excessive certainty. This clinging to sure 
profits, this penchant for small certainties, which is at times 
more to be condemned than gambling, is a characteristic weak- 
ness of the rationalist. 

The regrettable effects of such excessive desire for rational 
evidence and certainty this system C as we will call it in 
further discussion have been manifested during recent dec- 
ades in two vital spheres of the national political life, diplo- 
macy and national defense; in the latter more obviously than 

1 Burt, S., The Other Side, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1928, pp. 
248 ff . 



300 THE FRENCH MIND 

in the former, due to the constitutional discreteness of the 
former and the greater tangibility of the latter. 

French diplomacy has been supremely skilled in legalistic, 
logical negotiations, in which their foreign friends and com- 
petitors hardly pardon the French their effective logic. In 
such negotiations, more often than not, the French succeed 
"in drowning the fish" (noyer le foisson) caught in the nets 
of French logic. On the other hand, French diplomacy, to 
speak now of its post-war activities only, has perhaps shown 
more than once, insufficiency in planning and achieving a 
large objective; in other words, it seems to have failed in those 
instances in which the element of risk was large and which 
demanded an act of intuition and faith on the part of the 
nation. There are transactions not only in diplomacy, but also 
in other spheres of human affairs, which can never be fully 
based upon an exact calculation of chances, but in which one 
must rely upon the sixth sense upon the ability to sense 
probabilities. 

We shall, however, resist the temptation of penetrating be- 
hind the arcana of diplomacy and will now turn our attention 
to some unforgettable manifestations of System C in the 
World War. 

The strategy of Joffre in the early weeks of the campaign 
is a case in point. Unbiased students of the history of die 
World War are inclined to believe that Marshal Joffre missed 
some great opportunities at the very beginning of the massive 
"turning movement" undertaken by the Germans through 
Belgium in the direction west-south-west with the purpose of 
enveloping the main body of the French troops somewhere on 
the Paris-Verdun line. Joffre waited too long for information, 
perhaps superfluous, as to the strategical intentions of the Ger- 
man Commander-in-Chief , 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 301 

Joffre was an able and well-trained commander. He cer- 
tainly knew that lesson of military history so clearly formulated 
by Clausewitz: 

"All action in war is based on the probability, not on 
the certainty, of success* One must trust to luck, or what- 
ever it may be called, to supply the place of unattainable 
certainty. To be sure, in each given case one must seek 
as much certainty as the circumstances admit of, but one 
must not always prefer the situation with the smallest de- 
gree of uncertainty to any other situation which involves 
the greatest uncertainty. There are situations in which 
the greatest daring is the greatest wisdom." * 

Joffre himself cited, approvingly, Lord Kitchener's motto, 
"Our strategy must be opportunist, like politics." He also 
praised General Franchet d'Esperey for "the intelligent daring 
that is not to be found except in the heart of a real com- 
mander," 2 which was shown by the General in accepting the 
responsibility for the initial movement of the battle of the 
Marne executed by his battered troops. It appears, however, 
that at the beginning of hostilities Joffre himself did not ex- 
hibit reasonably opportunistic strategy or the "intelligent dar- 
ing" which he unselfishly praised in a subordinate. Joflfr 
sought a superfluous, because unattainable, degree of cer- 
tainty before he was ready to take action. 

He notes in his diary as follows: 

"Saturday, August 8. [1914] It: appeared, then, 
that the mass of the enemy forces was concentrated back 

1 Leinveber, Generalmajor a. D., Mit Clausewitz durch die Rdtsel und 
Fragen, Irrungcn und Wirrungen des Welttyeges, Behrs Verlag, Berlin und 
Leipzig, 1926, S. 212. 

2 Op. dt., t. I, p. 388. 



e 



302 THE FRENCH MIND 

of the 'position on the Moselle.' This mass could as con- 
veniently be directed westward as southward, utilizing in 
the latter case the protection offered by the fortress of 
Metz. As to the German army on the Meuse, which 
seemed to us to have attained to its full deployment, it 
appeared destined to support the movement of the bulk 
of the German forces, whether that movement should take 
a western or a southern direction. The attadk upon Liege, 
then, would seem merely an operation intended to serve 
as a screen erected by the Germans against the Belgian 
army and primarily aimed at securing possession of this 
important bridge-head itself. These were, however, but 
hypotheses; it was still too early to build on them a plan 
for our maneuver. Desirous to base my decision on well- 
established facts only, I was forced to withhold my orders 
relative to the employment of our left wing which was 
destined to carry out the principal operation." 1 

Liege is besieged and is near capture; the German forces 
are pouring, massively, through Belgium to stretch out their 
right wing and then to swing it southward against the fortified 
region of Paris. Joffre, succumbing to the rationalistic tempta- 
tion to await full information as to the crucial strategical in- 
tentions of the German Commander-in-Chief, is undecided 
with regard to his own principal maneuver. He notes in the 
diary simply this: * 

"Wednesday, August 12 . . . The German cavalry 
had pushed up to Diest and Tirlemont; this progress on 
the part of the enemy seems to have profoundly shocked 
the Belgian High Command." 2 

1 Op. tit., 1 1, p. 252. /Wi, 1 1, p, 261. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 303 

Liege fell on August 15. The German right wing had 
spread out in its "turning movement." Yet Joflre could not 
make up his mind. Six days after he wrote: 

"Tuesday, August 18. The amplitude which the enemy 
intended to give to the northward movement of his right 
wing remained unknown to us. To be sure, there was, in 
the region of Liege, a disturbing accumulation of troops. 
Was the enemy going to march astride the Meuse between 
Givet and Brussels? Or would he employ only a small 
part of his forces north of the Meuse, as we had supposed, 
and with the bulk of his forces, concentrated south of the 
river, seek to attack the left flank of our Fourth Army, 
which was engaged against the center of the German de- 
ployment? . . . 

". . . We have arrived at the end of the period of con- 
centration of our forces and it was time to decide upon our 
maneuver. My chief preoccupation, however, from the 
very beginning of the war has been to base my principal 
maneuver on precise data as to the enemy's forces. Fur- 
thermore, it was of importance that our maneuver re- 
main masked in order to secure for ourselves the benefit 
of surprise. Now, our information was still insufficient to 
determine the amplitude of the enemy's maneuver and 
his real intentions. On this day of August 18, studying 
the problem with absolute objectivity, that is, eliminating 
all element of imagination and basing my judgment 
strictly upon the data we had at the moment, it was impos- 
sible for me to foresee the maneuver that the enemy was 
preparing." * 
d., t. I, p. 273. 



304 THE FRENCH MIND 

This indecision on the part of Joffre found a correct ap- 
praisal in Mr. Winston Churchill's The World Crisis: 

"Why should the Germans with their eyes open throw 
first Belgium and then the British Empire into the scales 
against them unless for an operation of supreme magni- 
tude? Besides, there were the evidences of their long 
preparations camps, railways and railway sidings which 
the British Staff under Sir John French and Sir Henry 
Wilson had so minutely studied. Lastly, reported with 
much accuracy from day to day, there were the enormous 
troop movements on the German right, towards and into 
Belgium on both sides of the Meuse. Before the end of 
the first week in August General Lanrezac, the Com- 
mander of the left French Army (the Fifth), was raising 
loud cries of warning and alarm about the menace to his 
left, and indeed his rear, if he carried out the role as- 
signed to him and attacked as ordered in a northeasterly 
direction. By the end of the second week the presence of 
the accumulation masses of the German right could no 
. longer be denied by the French High Command, and cer- 
tain measures, tardy and inadequate, were taken to cope 
with it. Nevertheless, after the raid of a corps and a 
cavalry division into Alsace on the i3th of August, Gen- 
eral Joffre began his offensive into Lorraine with the two 
armies on the French right, the centre armies conforming 
a few days later; and up till the evening of the i8th, Gen- 
eral Lanrezac and the left of the Fifth Army were still 
under orders to advance north-east. Three days later this 
same army was defending itself in full battle from an 
attack from the north and north-west. It had been com- 
pelled to make a complete left wheel. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 305 

"The Germans, as General Michel and Sir Henry Wil- 
son had predicted three years before, made their vast turn- 
ing movement through Belgium." 1 

Many observers at the beginning of the World War, unduly 
influenced by the introduction of novel instruments of war- 
fare and by the gigantic scale of operations, declared that the 
technique and strategy of warfare had completely changed. 
They thought that Wellington's definition of a master general 
as one who knew what was happening on the other side of the 
line held true no longer, that the modern general had no 
opportunity to display military auscultation. War had be- 
come, in their minds, a matter of weighed battalions, of am- 
munition and massed reserves, in the employment of which 
organization and technical equipment played a greater part 
than military genius. The final lesson to be drawn from the 
course of the World War, however, is to the effect that there 
is still scope for military genius. 

The excessive desire for certainty that rationalistic System 
C brought again and again defeat to the French forces- The 
single, and saving, surprise that Joffre inflicted on the Ger- 
mans during his two and a half years as Commander-in-Chief 
was when he checked his retreating armies on the night of 

1 Scribner's, pp. 149 ft. CL also M. Poincare's following appraisal of the 
1914 campaign subsequent to the battle of the Marne: "M. Poincare dwells 
with biting irony upon certain contradictions of the Great General Headquar- 
ters. He desires to have it explained to him why, on the one hand, we can- 
not dislodge the Germans, who have just entrenched themselves in an open 
country, and why, on the other hand, they have succeeded in capturing 
from us the heights of the Meuse in less than a day. He does not under- 
stand how it happened that the Germans who had violated Belgian neu- 
trality for fear of our fortresses on the eastern border, could now take those 
fortresses from us so easily. He is astonished at the fall of Fort Badon- 
villers, which was captured in a few hours, so that no one even knows 
for certain whether it had been subjected to a heavy bombardment" 
(Bugnet, Ch., "Joffre et M. Millerand," Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 avril 
1936, P- 798.) 



306 THE FRENCH MIND 

September 5, 1914, and ordered a general attack along the 
entire front. This was the beginning of the battle of the 
Marne, which was, indeed, so complete a surprise to von 
Moltke, who thought that his troops were at the moment 
finishing the destruction of the routed French armies, that he 
suffered a grave nervous breakdown and was soon relieved 
from the High Command. 

As a general rule, Joffre would not order an attack unless 
and until the last shell had been placed in each munition depot, 
the last hospital wagon had reached an appointed locality, and 
the last road sign had been painted to direct the supporting 
troops. Such elaborate, and therefore necessarily dilatory and 
obvious, preparations never escaped the watchful opponent, 
who would thus know against what particular section of his 
front the attack was to be directed, and would prepare his 
troops for resistance and counterattack accordingly. 

This was precisely the cause of the frustration of Joffre's 
offensive in the summer of 1916 on both banks of the Somme. 
In that battle the Franco-British allies sought to bring the war 
to a victorious end. What the German historian, General von 
Kuhl says about this battle has not been invalidated by the 
Allied source material: 

"The original plan of the Allies was that the artillery 
would open fire on June 24 and the bombardment would 
continue for five days, and only then the infantry would 
go over the top. Subsequently the artillery preparation for 
the attack was extended by two days, because on some 
days during the preparatory shelling of our lines the work 
of the artillery was obstructed by bad weather. When the 
attack actually took place on July i, after it had been an- 
nounced long in advance by so violent a warning, all pos- 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 307 

sibility of surprise was out of the question. ... In fact, 
the enemy's preparations had long before been detected 
by the German reconnoitering service. For months Ger- 
man aviators observed the enemy's construction of assem- 
bling camps; in June they obtained the evidence of the 
enemy's mounting of many new batteries, which were 
connected by a widely spread network of new roads with 
huge munitions depots. Such observations supported by 
photographic pictures taken from the air had left no 
doubt that an attack on an extraordinarily large scale was 
in preparation against us, on the section of the front some 
forty kilometers long on both sides of the Somme, be- 
tween Chaulens and Goumecourt." 1 

When on the morning of July i the French and English in- 
fantry emerged from the trenches and rushed toward the 
enemy line, the Germans were fully prepared to meet the 
attack. As a result, the Allied plan miscarried and the battle 
of the Somme soon degenerated into the futile, sanguine, and 
costly "batdtte d'ttsure" warfare by attrition. 

Joffre's attempt to break through the German front on the 
Somme in 1916, after what proved fruitless careful prepara- 
tion, was the second attempt of the kind. The first was made 
in September, 1915, in Champagne, when Joffre delayed his 
attack upon the Germans for several weeks for the sake of 
"sure fire" preparation. He unnecessarily disregarded the 
urgent appeals of the Russian Commander-in-Chief the same 
commander who had rushed the Samsonov Army, even be- 
fore the concentration of his forces, into East Prussia at the 
beginning of the war in reply to the appeal of Joffre for a 
relief from the crushing German pressure on Paris; the Rus- 

1 Kuhl, H. von, Der Weltfyieg, Berlin, Verlag Tradition, 1929, B. I, SS. 
487 ff. 



308 THE FRENCH MIND 

sian operation succeeded, at the price of the Samsonov Army, 
in distracting some German divisions from France and Bel- 
gium to the Eastern Front, and thus gave material aid in a 
critical situation on the Western Front. Now Joffre left prac- 
tically unheeded his Russian ally's appeal for an action that 
would call away from the Russian Front a part of the German 
forces, which were crushing the Russian army, disastrously 
short of ammunition. When at last Joffre began his attack in 
Champagne, the Germans were ready for him and his success 
was a very limited one. 

Even more impressive, if possible, was the sinister play of 
System C in the abortive attack on the Aisne, undertaken by 
Joffre's successor, General Nivelle, in April of I9I7- 1 

General Nivelle had distinguished himself in the defense 
of Verdun, in particular by recapturing from the Germans the 
forts, Vaux and Douaumont. France, badly shaken by the 
war and the continued failure of her arms, hailed in Nivelle 
the incarnation of the old invincible warrior spirit of the 
nation a youthful commander who had at last arisen to lead 
the armies of France to a smashing victory. In December, 
1916, Joffre was dismissed from the High Command and 
Nivelle appointed in his place. Soon the entire nation, from 
Paris to the smallest hamlet, heard that Nivelle was prepar- 
ing another Vaux and Douaumont, but this time on the scale 
which would sweep the last "Boche" from the soil of France. 
It became known that Nivelle had promised success within 
forty-eight hours from the beginning of his offensive. In the 
evening of April 16, 1917, General Nivelle issued his well- 
known battle order: "The hour has struck! Confidence! 
Courage! Long live France!" The battle, however, proved 

Churchill, W., The World Crisis, cit.; Lloyd George, D., op. dt. t 



Vol. H. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 309 

to be, as M. Painleve, then Minister for War, well put it, sim- 
ply another Somme. And, again, the cause was the same. 
"All surprise element was totally lacking in the operation," 
correctly observes the German historian, General von KuhL 
As a result, the French attacking troops ran into German 
divisions which for weeks during the Nivelle preparation had 
been rested and especially trained to repell his attack, the exact 
direction of which had been known to the Germans since the 
middle of February. 

There was, however, a difference between the Somme proper 
and the "second Somme"; the latter, characterized by futile 
slaughter of the French troops on a scale even greater than that 
of July, 1916, led to an outburst of revolt in the French army 
which made the French forces unfit for any major operation 
for another year. The War Minister, in order to placate pub- 
lic opinion, found it necessary to make a declaration to the 
effect that the blunder of April 16 would never be repeated; 
that generals would not be permitted to demand the impos- 
sible from their men; that an end would be put to poorly pre- 
pared and overambitious plans of generals who wished to 
imitate Napoleon and sought to subdue an entire nation in 
arms by a single onslaught. An indirect result of the Nivelle 
failure and the imprudent encouragement given to the German 
Supreme Command by the reaction in France was the great 
offensive against Russia, which resulted in the profound bend- 
ing of the Russian Front and thus contributed, indirectly, to 
the overthrow of the Kerensky provisional democratic govern- 
ment by the Bolshevists in the fall of the year. 

One more important trait of the abortive Nivelle offensive 
seems to be eminently relevant. The Germans, preparing for 
the Nivelle offensive, announced to them by a multiplicity of 
unmistakable signs long before its actual beginning, decided 



310 THE FRENCH MIND 

to employ a new tactics, that of "elastic yielding/' (Aususeich- 
tatyiQ or "defense in depth." This tactics consisted in trans- 
forming the first line of defense on the section of the front 
to be attacked by the enemy into a false front, thinly occupied 
by sparse sharpshooters and machine gunners. The real line 
was moved back, the reserves were massed for counterattack, 
and the artillery was well to the rear. Thus the enemy's 
artillery was foredoomed to degenerate into a massed firing 
of big guns at sparrows. When the attacking troops reached 
the real lines of the enemy, they are themselves beyond the 
protective range of their artillery. Next, they collide with the 
enemy's real front, flaming, impenetrable, alive with counter- 
attack. Of such an eventuality the more capable French gen- 
erals had explicitly warned the Commander-in-Chief, but as 
M.,Pierrefeu records, "General Nivelle replied that he could 
not make decisions on the basis of mere hypotheses." 1 

1 Pierreeu, J., of. dt., t. II, pp. 270 F.; Kuhl, H. von, op. cit., B. I, SS. 
486 ff.; B. II, SS. 384 fif. 

Cf. Colonel KLoeltz, "L'Histoire militaire," Revue de Paris, 15 avril 1937, 
pp. 929 .: 

"General Krafft von Dellmensingen, charged by Ludendorff at the be- 
ginning of September, 1917, with the duty of reconnoitering for an opera- 
tion on the Italian Front the Isonzo River which was to take place early 
in November and which went down in history as the battle of Caporetto, 
called LudendorfPs attention to a great many difficulties that the operation 
desired by him would present: the narrowness of the front of the initial 
attack; the lack of natural means of concealment for the assembling of the 
attacking troops, which, therefore, would have to be done in a difficult 
and perilous terrain; the solidity of the enemy's position, abundantly pro- 
vided with artillery, certain batteries having been placed on the dominant 
mountain ridges; the generally unfavorable topography of a mountainous 
country with deep valleys and abundant forests through which the German 
artillery would not be able to follow the German infantry; the precarious 
conditions for the concentration of German forces in a locality possessing 
insufficient means of communication and subsistence. 

"Despite the discouraging results of General Krafft's reconnoitering, the 
German Supreme Command, confident of the valor of its troops and of 
the general staffs of its units, accepted all the risks inherent in an opera- 
tion 'hinging on the very boundary of the possible.' Side by side with 
the attack on Liege in August, 1914, the passage of the Danube at Belgrade 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 311 

Fortunately for the French and the Allied forces on the 
Western Front, there were found among the French generals 
men in whom the rationalistic abilities outweighed the de- 
fects. The ablest among such generals was Foch, whom the 
debacle wrought by the Ludendorff attack in March-April, 
1918, brought at last to the post of Generalissimo of the Allied 
forces on the Western Front. 

Soon after the battle of March-April, in the direction of 
Amiens, Ludendorff organized another major battle, this time 
on each side of Rheims, in the general direction of Paris. He 
hoped that if this battle developed favorably for the Germans, 
the growing threat to Paris would force the Allies to push 
their reserves southward to defend Paris. Then he, Luden- 
dorfl, would send the Crown Prince Ruprecht of Bavaria with 
thirty-one divisions against the British in Flanders, to roll up 
the British Front to the Channel ports; having defeated the 
British and thrown them into the sea, he would bear down on 
the French for the knock-out. The Germans, however, had 
laid out their plans without reckoning with the new Allied 
Generalissimo. For Marshal Foch 

"Trusting the information at hand in spite of all its un- 
certainty . . . resolved to allow the Rheims battle to de- 
velop, and then at its height to strike at the right flank of 
the advancing Germans with a heavy counter-stroke. For 
this purpose he massed with all possible secrecy in the 
forests around Villers-Cotterets an army of more than 
twenty divisions and 350 small French tanks. He drew 



in 1915, the march through the Transylvania Alps in 1916, the passage of 
the Dvina at Riga in 1917, and the battle of Chemin des Dames in 1918, 
Caporetto is an additional proof that high German commanders do not 
hesitate to take great tactical risks for the sake of great strategical objec- 
tives, provided that they have enough time to prepare calmly for JL risky 
operation and have the means of beginning it with a surprise attack." 



312 THE FRENCH MIND 

these forces from the reserves which Petain wished to keep 
to guard Paris. He also on the i2th asked that four Brit- 
ish divisions should be moved into the French zone. . . . 
These were serious requests." 1 

The battle of Rheims broke out early in the morning of the 
i5th of July. The same day Germans succeeded in crossing 
the Marne, for the second time in the World War. Further 
and sharper protests were raised by the French General Head- 
quarters against Foch's plan for a counterattack and his with- 
holding for that purpose the reserves so badly needed to stem 
the German onrush toward Paris. Foch remained adamant. 
He ordered the counterattack to begin at 8:00 A.M., July 18. 
Ludendorfi, in a poignantly terse passage of his memoirs, con- * 
cedes the depressing effect which Foch's cool and intelligent 
daring produced on the Germans. 2 The Allied counter- 
attack, known as the battle of CMteau-Thierry, undertaken 
by Foch in opposition to System C, proved the beginning of 
the continued Allied advance and the German retreat. The 
tide was turned. 

We will now give our attention to System Ddbrouille-toi, 
"Manage in any way you can, but do it." This hazardous 
device operates in many fields. M. Albert Flament draws an 
apt illustration from a rehearsal at the Opera: 

"One could not escape the impression that the actors 
were saying to themselves: 'After all, this is merely a re- 
hearsal and does not mean much.' While we had ex- 
pected to find ourselves face to face with a group of 
neophytes, disciplined and yet excited because conscious 

1 Churchill, W., The World Crisis, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 
'The Turn of the Tide." 
*Ludendorffs Own Story, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1919, pp. 311 f. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 313 

of the imperfections of their performance, we saw in real- 
ity a gang of school boys and schoolgirls on a holiday. 
Everything will take care of itself when the curtain rises! 
To be sure, everything will run smoothly when the cur- 
tain rises; the Frenchman is a born improviser. Yet, 
everything would run smoother if he talked less or what 
is it that he does instead of doing things? and brought 
himself to see that everything has its importance in our 
earthly affairs." * 

The rationalist, eager to envisage things in their basic lines 
and to comprehend their fundamental aspects and significance, 
and also confident of the ability of his mind to improvise the 
solution of any problem which might confront him, has 
small tolerance for drill. In fact the only discipline he will- 
ingly submits to is the general intellectual training character- 
istic of French education, that training which consists of the 
rapid arrangement of a variety of ideas, and the limpid expres- 
sion, oral or written. Practical drill in anything is something 
that the Frenchman abhors; if he is one of the world's best 
craftsmen, it is because craftsmanship admits of and encour- 
ages the artistic play of an inventive mind, that is the play of 
ideas, upon an inert medium. This rationalistic contempt for 
drill, this inclination to substitute improvisation for organiza- 
tionSystem D has both positive and negative results; the 
French often accomplish difficult things with ease, but do 
clumsily and with difficulty many things that should be easy. 
For example, the enforcement of simple rules of public 
order is a difficult matter in France. There is a noticeable 
laxity in the matter of minor regulations on the part of ration- 
alistic functionaries, who privately think that a minor trans- 

1 "Tableaux de Paris," Revue Ac 'Pans, 15 fevrier 1935, p. 953. 



' rH] FRENCH MIND 

gression is pas grand' chose. In search of less rationalistic 
and more strict policemen, the French make generous use of 
Corsican recruits, but even so "Entrance strictly forbidden" 
(L'entrte formellement interdite) may safely be taken as a 
polite request in France; the exit is very unlikely to be via 
a fine or jail, as might easily be the case in Germany or Eng- 
land. Dr. Harvey Gushing of Harvard, who worked during 
the World War with both the French and the English, notes 
in his diary with regard to the latter: ". . . They appear to 
be much more strict here than in the French zones, and per- 
mission to visit the hospitals could not be granted without 
consulting officialdom." 1 

"The Frenchman has a lot of order in his head," observed 
Herr Heimburg, "but astonishing lack of order at his railway 
depots." 2 It may be added that comparisons which one can 
make while visiting ocean liners English, French, and German, 
for instance, at their piers in New York City harbor just be- 
fore sailing, are not favorable to the French, precisely because 
of their indifference to matters of routine. Mr. Brand Whit- 
lock, United States Minister to Belgium, describing in his diary 
the unpleasantness of Le Havre where the Belgian Government 
resided during the World War, complains of the noise made 

1 Gushing, H., Leaves from a Surgeon's Journal, 1915-1918, Boston, Little, 
Brown & Co., 1936, p. 56. 

2 Op. cit., p. 13. Cf. P. Balfour's reminiscences of French Indo-China: 
"We had no idea how far we were from the frontier, and the road seemed 
interminable. Suddenly, in the darkness, we passed a signpost, 'Rdentir' 
[Slow down]. The driver accelerated. It was French territory. . . . 
Though built on a similar plan, this boat was as different in atmosphere 
from the other as two in an identical row of London houses. The first 
was spick-and-span. One felt the iron hand of the Corsican captain, de- 
manding the respect and submission of his crew, and there was an air of 
ceremony about its routine. But the second was entirely French and hap- 
hazard, like the difference between the Empire [the Napoleonic regime] 
and the Republic." (Grand Tour, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 
*935> PP- 285, 291.) 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 315 

by "at least six steeple clocks which strike the quarters, though 
at different times, so bells are booming all night." * 

An example of the tragic operation of System D is clearly 
drawn in M. Rene Doumic's account of the assassination of 
King Alexander of Yugoslavia at Marseille in October, 1934, 
and the death, from wounds, of the Minister for Foreign Af- 
fairs M. Louis Bartou, who accompanied the King: 

"It was an unheard of case of culpable negligence, for 
which no disciplinary measure can be severe enough. No 
first aid service had been organized for the occasion of the 
visit of the King; traffic control was badly bungled. What 
a spectacle, which the habitual patrons of moving pictures 
in all lands saw that of the wounded minister running 
about, bleeding, in search of a taxi to take him to a hos- 
pital, and trying to push his way through the crowd! An 
elementary kind of order and elementary first aid, the 
prompt binding of his wound, would have saved his life." 2 

The course of the World War offers many striking mani- 
festations of System D of the French inability to do easily 
simple things and of their compensating ability to accomplish, 
apparently with ease, the most difficult undertakings. Illustra- 
tions drawn from its history will occupy us almost wholly for 
the rest of this chapter. 

The peace-time training of troops in England and more- 1 
particularly in Germany, was based upon the idea that the 
average soldier can function properly in time of war only by 
applying the practical lessons he has learnt in peace; that 
theories and axioms are all very well for officers on staff in- 
spection tours, but the soldier in time of war is either too tired 

1 Whitlock, B., The Journal, New York, D. Appleton-Century Co., 1936, 
p. 470. 

2 Revue des Deux Mondes, i** novembre 1934, p. 209. 



THE FRENCH MIND 



or too pressed to think with concentration; that he will only 
do what comes to him naturally and, so to speak, instinctively, 
as a result of long training and usage. In fact, it was dis- 
covered during the World War that the new methods of war- 
fare which evolved in the course of events had to be taught 
behind the lines, that is, under conditions comparable to those 
of peace-time training. 

The beginning of the World War found the French infantry 
untrained in the digging of trenches and in trench warfare 
in general. The lessons of the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905, 
had been lost on the French General Staff. That proud as- 
sembly of the ilite of French officers, suffering from the in- 
ability of doing easily simple things, had made small use of 
the opportunity of studying the newer methods of warfare 
which were developed in the Russo-Japanese War. To borrow 
from M. Recouly: 

"France, being joined to Russia by an alliance at that 
time, ought to have sent all of her most intelligent and 
outstanding Staff officers to Manchuria. It was a perfect 
opportunity, if ever there was one, to give them laboratory 
experience in the lessons of real warfare. The mission 
which represented us, however, in command of a mere 
brigadier-general (who should instead have been a more 
important military leader), was composed of the most 
mediocre officers. Its members were poorly equipped for 
drawing the correct conclusions, from their observations, 
and they were in an even weaker position as regards mak- 
ing the ruling officers of the French army take advantage 
of the knowledge which they did bring back. The oppor- 
tunity which the French chiefs passed up, for taking a 
real lesson on the field of battle, cost them something ten 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 317 

years later, when they had to learn the same things while 
under fire themselves." 1 

The French High Command was convinced that their sol- 
diers shared with their commanders the rationalistic repug- 
nance to trench warfare; that the French soldier's natural 
desire was for quick solutions, for bold, free movement, fight- 
ing in the open, and the exhilaration of dashing enterprises 
on the battlefield. The High Command feared that trench 
life would lower the dash and vitality of the troops, make 
them "sticky," and in general unfit them for the offensive, for 
that war of movement, which alone could bring, in the opin- 
ion of the High Command, a decisive victory of arms. 

In the happy words of Colonel E. L. Spears, the British 
liaison officer, "it took the war to reveal the French to them- 
selves, and to prove that French 'troops could be as stoic and 
as stubborn in resistance as the most stolid northerners." 2 

Experience has shown that the dreary, sickening inaction of 
the trench and the great privations involved in holding lines 
isolated by the enemy's artillery fire, failed to quench the gay- 
heartedness of the "little soldiers of France." 8 But mean- 
while, they suffered appalling casualties, due to the havoc 
which System D had wrought upon the peace-time training 
of the French Army, in particular, of the infantry. To borrow 
again from Colonel Spears: 

"I had attended French manoeuvres a couple of years 
before the war, and had been much struck by the dislike 
of the French infantry for digging trenches, in fact their 

1 Recouly, R., Joffre, New York, D. Appleton-Century Company, 1931, 
pp. 85 f. 

2 Op. cit., p. 38. 

8 C. Adam, G., Behind the Scenes at the Front, London, Chatto & 
Windus, 1915, p. 177. 



318 THE FRENCH MIND 

real disdain of this form of protection, and had felt that 
their mass formations could only have been excused on 
the ground that a spectacular effect was permissible at the 
end of manoeuvres, and might indeed be useful in convey- 
ing a false impression to foreign Military Attaches. As 
musketry instructor in my own regiment and fully alive 
to the stopping power of rifles and machine guns, I had 
found the display particularly exasperating. I wondered 
whether they had learnt anything since then, but in the 
battles that were to come I had the misfortune to see these 
troops, animated by the highest courage, led to their doom 
in the same close formations as I had watched at man- 
oeuvres a few years before. 

"The sense of tragic futility of it will never quite fade 
from the minds of those who saw these brave men, dash- 
ing across the open to the sound of drums and bugles, 
ckd in the old red caps and trousers which a parsimonious 
democracy dictated they should wear, although they 
turned each man into a target. The gallant officers who 
led them were entirely ignorant of the stopping power of 
modern firearms, and many of them thought it chic to die 
in white gloves," 1 

Colonel Spears relates a series of misadventures with French 
army units to whom the British uniform was "totally un- 
familiar." But much more astonishing is the testimony of 
a French surgeon in charge of a field hospital, who notes in 
his war diary this remarkable indictment of System D: 

"August 6 [1914] Today I saw for the first time an 
ambulance otherwise than on paper. And yet I have six 

1 From Uaison, 1914, by Brigadier General Spears, 1931, pp. 37 f., reprinted 
with permission by Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc., New York. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 319 

years of active service. We have never, however, bothered 
ourselves with this eventuality that has come now on us 



war." 1 



System D was responsible also for the fact that, while in 
some places at the front the British were mistaken for the 
Germans, enemy espionage work was not infrequently facili- 
tated by the indifference on the part of some French military 
authorities to simple measures of precaution. An interesting 
echo is found in M. Recouly's account of a meeting at Bray- 
sur-Seine between General Franchet d'Esperay, Commander 
of the French Fifth Army, and Sir Henry Wilson, Field- 
Marshal French's Assistant Chief of Staff, just before the 
batde of the Marne: 

"He [General Wilson] introduced his companion, Colo- 
nel Macdonogh, head of the intelligence service. As soon 
as they went up to -the grand council room on the floor 
above, Franchet d'Esperey began to spread out his maps 
on the table in the middle of the room. Macdonogh, the 
soul of caution, quickly lifted up the cover of the table 
to make sure that no one was hidden underneath. He 
must have been thinking of Bismarck's famous gesture, 
when, at the Congress of Berlin, peeved at the Times cor- 
respondent, Blowitz, who had seemed to him to have too 
much inside information, even about the most secret mat- 
ters, he began the session by looking under the table, 
exclaiming, *I want to see that Blowitz is not under 
there.' 

"Macdonogh did even better. He explored behind all 
of the furniture, poked into all the closets, and finally 

1 Laval, E., Souvenirs d'un Medecin-Major /p/^/p/7, Payot, Paris, 1932, 
p. ii. 



320 THE FRENCH MIND 

posted his Highlander at the door with a fixed bayonet, 
instructing him to allow no one to come near. 

" 'You might think/ Franchet d'Esperey told me, 'that 
this wealth of precaution was a bit excessive. Anyhow, 
it was certainly better than the carelessness the French 
have often shown in similar circumstances, and more than 
once to their chagrin.' " x 

General Dubail, reflecting in his diary on the military short- 
comings of the French, impressively summarizes the negative 
manifestations of System D: 

"All our imperfections and gaps are caused by the gen- 
erals neglecting to take full advantage of the services of 
their General Staffs; they are inadequately informed and 
only seldom go out to see things for themselves. As a 
result, the troops are negligent in protecting themselves; 
the work on observation turrets is reduced to a minimum; 
the outposts are barely sufficient, the reconnoitering service 
is inadequate to get insight into projects of the Germans." 2 

As we have seen, System C was responsible for the repeated 
failure of the French High Command to sense the strategical 
intentions of the Germans and to counter with a strategical 
surprise. System D, on the other hand, was responsible for 
a similar weakness in military tactics, that is, with regard to 
the combination of methods of warfare for the attainment of 
a strategical goal. Again, the French, like the English, were 
usually caught off guard, and it was only toward the end of 
the war the Allies subtantially improved their tactics, largely 
by turning against the Germans their own tactical inventions. 

1 Recouly, R., foffre, New York, D. Appleton-Century Company, 1931, pp. 
153 * 

2 Dubail* A.-Y.-E., op. cit., t II, p. 41. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 321 

Thus General Gouraud successfully employed the tactics of a 
false front (Ausweichtaktify in the battle east of Rheims on 
July 15, 1918, while Marshal Foch, in the celebrated flank at- 
tack at the battle of Chateau-Thierry, and in several subse- 
quent operations, used the "infiltration" method, employed 
by the Germans on a large scale first against the Russians and 
the Italians in the summer and fall of 1917 and then on the 
Franco-British Front in the spring of I9I8. 1 

Had the Franco-British allies in the West acquainted their 
troops with the new tactics successfully employed against the 
Russians and the Italians ? No, System D had prevented this 
common-sense step. M. Pierrefeu records: "Our High Com- 
mand had learned about it in due time, and studied it, but 
did not think it was possible that the Germans would employ 
it against us." 2 There was, however, no imaginable reason 
why the Germans should not try to apply the new tactics on 
the Western Front. Indeed, the Germans had carefully drilled 
their troops on the Western Front in the method of infiltra- 
tion, and general instructions for the Ludendorff attack were 
summed up in a pamphlet issued by the German Supreme 
Command, entitled: "The Preparation of the German Troops 
for the Great Battle on France in the Spring of 1918." 8 

1 Gough, Sir H., The Fifth Army, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1931; 
also Edmonds, Sir J. E., History of the Great War Eased on Official Docu- 
ments: France and Belgium, 1918, London, Macmillan Co., 1935; Ministere 
de la Guerre, Les armees jranqaises dans la Grande Guerre, Paris, Imprimerie 
Nationale, 1931, tome VI. 

2 Op. cit. t t. II, pp. 159 f . 

8 "Die Vorbereitung des deutschen Heeres fur die Grosse Schlacht in 
Frankreich im Fruhling 1918." See Hart, L., Foch, London, Eyre and 
Spottiswoode, 1931, p. 156. 

Note: The attack by infiltration was to be led by hand-picked, well- 
trained, and well-rested Storm Troops, armed with light machine guns, 
light trench mortars, and flame projectors. The actual batde was to be 
preceded by a short bombardment of the enemy lines. The duty of the 
Storm Troops was to feel out die weak spots in the enemy defenses and 



322 THE FRENCH MIND 

"A primary factor in the German success had been the 
revival of surprise the master-key to open any barred gate 
in wan" * The Ludendorff attack did not result in a decisive 
victory for the Germans only because of insufficient man- 
power. 

In March-April, 1918, it was the British Fifth Army that 
suffered heavily for the lack of preparation necessary to cope 
with an attack by infiltration. A month later System D was 
still again responsible for the success of the attack of May 27 
at Chemin des Dames, in which the Germans inflicted a heavy 
blow on the French Sixth Army, as a result of a surprise that 
was at one and the same time strategical and tactical; the Ger- 
mans were barely precluded from breaking through towards 
Paris between Soissons and Rheims. M. Jean Pierrefeu, the 
talented narrator of days and deeds of the French Great Gen- 
eral Headquarters, relates the tragic incident with his char- 
acteristic frankness: 

"Prepared with even greater degree of precaution, the 
offensive of May 27 had remained secret to us until its 
very beginning; this despite the fact that the crest of 
Chemin des Dames presented rare conveniences for land 
observations. In the monograph issued by the General 



press over them, in order to spread confusion and panic by penetrating 
behind the lines. The Storm Troops were to glide past centers of re- 
sistance, such as machine-gun nests, leaving these to be handled by the 
waves which followed. The general order was: "Push on, keep inside the 
divisional areas and do not trouble about what happens right or left." If 
tanks should be sent out by the enemy, they were to be allowed to pass 
through ^the Storm Troops, to be dealt with by the artillery in the rear; 
but the infantry accompanying them was to be engaged in counterattacks. 
Machine guns were never to retreat. These tactical rules were splendidly 
carried out by the German troops in the memorable attack of March 21, 
directed against the junction point of the British and the French, in the 
region of Amiens, and against the channel ports back of that key position. 
^Hart, L. ? op. cit. f pp. 264 ff, 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 323 

Staff of the Sixth Army on July 4, 1918, they had the 
candor to relate the event exactly as it occurred. In their 
study, the General Staff of the Sixth Army declare that 
prior to May 26 they had not received any sufficiently 
serious evidence presaging an oncoming offensive. The 
manner in which the imminent attack was at last discov- 
ered merits relation. At daybreak on the 26th two Ger- 
man prisoners were taken in the sector of Coutrecon. The 
men belonged to two different battalions of one and the 
same Jager regiment; one was a private and the other an 
aspirant-officer. They were sent to the Headquarters of 
the Twenty-Second Division. Interrogated there, the pri- 
vate said that an attack was imminent; the aspirant-officer 
contradicted him. The interrogation was stopped then 
and there and the men were sent to the Headquarters of 
an Army Corps. The Chief of the Second Bureau of the 
Army, accompanied by an interpreter, came in person to 
interrogate the prisoners. The interrogation began at i :3O 
P.M. The aspirant-officer, questioned first, was voluble 
in declaring that the Germans had no intentions of an 
offensive on this section of the front. Interrogated next, 
the private said that the men believed that they would at- 
tack that night or the night following; he was not sure 
of the date. Pressed, he said that cartridges and grenades 
had already been distributed, but not the field rations. 
The previous day he had seen soldiers belonging to the 
Guard regiments near his sector. He knew no more, hav- 
ing been recently moved to the sector. 

"The aspirant-officer was recalled. He was told that 
under the usages of war he was not forced to speak, but 
that he would be held responsible for the statements which 
he had volunteered; to give false information was the act 



324 1HE FRENCH 

of a spy. On this he became visibly perturbed, and under 
pressure gave the most complete details of the attack which 
was to take place the next day. 

"It was already 3:00 P.M. There was no doubt as to the 
imminence of the attack and the alarm was immediately 
given by the organs of information. 

"Thus it was that on the afternoon of the day preceding 
the attack, the enemy's plans became known to us. The 
following night, the enemy began artillery bombardment 
between the forest of Pinon and Rheims. 

"That the Germans had taken unimaginable precautions 
to keep their preparations from us, cannot be doubted. 
Nevertheless, it is strange, to say the least, that the ex- 
perience of March 21 should have proved insufficient to 
teach us how to read the enemy's novel game. . . . This 
disaster, however, had the same origin as several others; 
we had not paid a new tactics the attention it deserved. 
This was a supreme evidence of the difficulty with which 
the French, a rationalist nation, fond of general ideas and 
of theories, were adapting themselves to this war of tech- 
nique. . . .' 9:L 

M. Pierrefeu vividly describes the excruciating anxiety of 
the French High Command, as they waited hour after hour 
for the crushing blow, which they were powerless to avert. 
The French reserves were far away in Flanders, and, though 
several divisions had been immediately ordered to the men- 
aced sector, two days must elapse before their arrival. 2 At 
2:00 A.M., May 27, the German artillery began demolishing 
the French lines on a thirty-kilometer front. Three-and-a-half 
hours later eighteen German divisions advanced upon a few 

1 Op. cit. f t H, pp. 180 8. 2 Ibid., p. 187. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 325 

French and three refitting British divisions. Crown Prince 
William of Germany, who commanded in the offensive, re- 
lates: 

"The small enemy force holding the position . . . were 
overrun and the Chemin des Dames and the Aisne-Marne 
Canal reached in one swoop. As early as the afternoon 
our leading units were over the Aisne. By the evening 
the centre of the Third Army had already reached the 
Vesle on both sides of Fismes. A break-through with a 
depth of twenty kilometers had been attained in one 
day." 1 

True, their English allies on the Chemin des Dames front 
had not shown sufficient vigilance either, but the responsibility 
for the front undoubtedly rested with the Command of the 
Sixth French Army. The war memoirs of the German Crown 
Prince contain the following curious illustration of the ne- 
farious working of System D on that part of the front: 

"On this day [May 27, 1918] I could restrain my im- 
patience no longer; I simply had to go forward and see 
with my own eyes how things were shaping. . . . From 
the eminence of the Chemin des Dames there was a splen- 
did view over the whole scene of attack. The thunder of 
the guns rolled onwards ahead of us and aircraft fought in 
the blue summer sky. ... It was just as at manoeuvres. 
The headquarters flag fluttered on the inn; runners and 
motor-cyclists came and went, and the telephone worked 
at high pressure. . . . We passed long columns of Eng- 
lish prisoners. I spoke to some of the officers. I asked 
one of the prisoners how it came about that they had heard 

1 My War Experiences, London, Hurst and Blackett, s.d., p. 318. 



326 THE FRENCH MIND 

nothing of our preparations for the attack, as some of our 
artillery had had to be brought up quite close behind the 
front line. He replied that the thousands of frogs in the 
Ailette valley had made such a din in the night that noth- 
ing could be heard above it. The converse of the famous 
case of the geese in the Capitol." 1 

It was at that moment, when the tragic mischief worked by 
System D on the Sixth French Army had badly shaken the 
nerves of the French nation, that the young untried American 
troops rendered to the Allied cause their first important service. 
To tell the story in M. Pierrefeu's picturesque words: 

"All at once the roads leading to the front at Coulom- 
miers and Meaux became alive with American troops. An 
interminable caravan of lorries jammed with young men 
seated in various curious postures, some with their feet in 
the air and others perched on the frames, almost all of 
them bareheaded with collars unbuttoned, singing at the 
tops of their voices tunes native to the new world amidst 
the general enthusiasm of a cheering populace along the 
road sides. Such was the spectacle of an army of beard- 
less youngsters from across the sea, none of whom was 
much over twenty years of age, exhibiting a contagious 
vigor and health under their clean uniforms. The effect 
of this spectacle was prodigious. The Americans furnished 
a gripping contrast to the men of our own regiments, 
whose habiliments were frayed by many years of war, and 
whose emaciated faces and sunken eyes reflected that 
strange glow of a subdued fire. These men of ours were 
in reality no more than a bundle of nerves kept together 
by the indomitable spirit of heroism and self-sacrifice. All 

1 My War Experiences, London, Hurst and Blackett, s. d. f pp. 320 ff. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 327 

had the feeling that what they beheld was to be a magical 
transfusion of blood. Life arrived in floods to reanimate 
the bruised body of France, bled white by the innumerable 
wounds sustained during the four years of war. No one 
for a moment intimated that these soldiers were perhaps 
not properly instructed, that they had but courage to sus- 
tain them a reflection that would have been branded 
ridiculous. If one were inclined to mysticism one per- 
ceived the presence of an outpouring and relentless force, 
which would overcome all obstacles because of its own 
power. Thus in these days of trial, when the enemy once 
more had reached the banks of the Marne and believed us 
discouraged, a new, unimaginable confidence, surpassing 
the bounds of common sense, filled the hearts of the 
Frenchmen. Our soldiers, returned from the battle lines 
grim and haggard, raised their heads and shouted frenzied 
hurrahs at the sight of their new brothers-in-arms. They 
said, as they observed them approvingly: Those are fine 
boys just the same.' And they added with characteristic 
Gallic causticity: 'Go ahead, old man. In a week's time 
your face will not look so clean-shaven.' " x 

System D is already an old national tradition, undoubtedly 
inherent in the national psychology of the French. Omitting 
mention of more ancient instances, it may be recalled how 
Napoleon himself, the Gallicized Corsican, paid the devil of 
System D his due, and a heavy one, on several occasions, of 
which the Russian campaign affords the most striking as well 
as the costliest example. Caulaincourt, speaking from his ex- 
perience as French Ambassador to Russia, had warned Napo- 
leon that ample stores of winter clothes and acclimatized 

ipierrefeu, J., op. cit., t II, pp. 197 f. 



328 THE FRENCH MIND 

horses were essential; that heavy horseshoes should be forged 
and the horses shod for ice-covered roads; that each soldier 
should be properly equipped for the bitter winter. Napoleon, 
succumbing to the deceptive formula of System D, replied: 
"You do not know the French. They will get all they need; 
one thing will take place of another." x But the miracle de- 
manded was not forthcoming and the whole course of events 
ran implacably against Napoleon and his men. 

During the retreat from Moscow, a curious incident occurred 
to Napoleon^ himself that belongs to the accepted disorder, 
which was deplored by General Dubail and many others 
during the World War. After the battle of Malo-Yaroslavets 
Napoleon was spending the night (October 24-25, 1812) in a 
hut by the bridge at the small hamlet of Ghorodnia. He was 
depressed and restless, and did not sleep. An hour before day- 
break he called in some members of his personal suite and 
declared that he had decided to lead a reconnoitering party 
and to find out for himself whether the Russians were draw- 
ing up for battle, or whether they were again giving him the 
slip. The dawn was just breaking, the visibility still very poor. 
Napoleon and his party had ridden less than a mile from head- 
quarters when they found themselves almost face to face with 
a Cossack detachment, which had just carried away several, 
pieces of French artillery. By some chance sound Napoleon 
and his party were warned in the nick of time. While the 
bravery and keen sportsmanship of the Cossacks doubtless 
played a major part in the episode. System D was their ally. 

Happily for France, System D is producive not only of 
weakness but also of strength. The rationalistic resourceful- 
ness in finding solutions, not only of the unforeseen but also 

1 Caulaincourt, A.-A.-L., de, With Napoleon in Russia, New York, Wil- 
liam Morrow & Co., 1935, pp. 154 . 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 329 

unforeseeable, compensates in some measure for the drawbacks 
of System D. It may be noted that France carried out the 
mobilization of her forces in 1914 and their movement to 
appointed positions without a hitch. A still more impressive 
manifestation of the positive aspects of System D is to be seen 
in the rapidity and efficiency with which industrial France, so 
largely confined to light, artistic industries prior to the World 
War, was able to organize and develop the heavy industries on 
which the army and the navy depended for munitions of war. 
When the probability of a long war was driven home, France 
went to work at the creation of new and the reorganization 
of old heavy industries and soon managed to produce war 
materials of a quantity and quality second only to those of 
Germany, a country that had specialized long since in heavy 
industries. 

Indeed, during the war System D produced from time to 
time astoundingly good results. Colonel Spears, commenting 
upon the difficulties of transport service during the retreat of 
the Fifth Army to the line of the Lower Sambre early in the 
war, made an observation well justified by subsequent events: 

"There were also certain practical difficulties which 
tended to upset the most careful calculation. The French 
horse transport at this period of the war was an absolute 
curse. Manned to a great extent by reservists who had 
not yet become permeated with army discipline, the con- 
voyers were forever blocking the roads and getting hope- 
lessly jammed. One shuddered to think what would 
happen if, as seemed extremely likely, the transport of one 
corps got mixed with that of another. 

"Luckily no such disaster occurred. This fortunate re- 
sult was due less to organization than to the amazing way 



33 THE FRENCH MIND 

the French have at times of 'getting there' in spite of what 
could appear to be hopeless confusion. It is the resource 
and wit displayed by each individual in solving his own 
problems that does it. 'Le systeme D.' 'Debrouille-toi 
'muddle through' they called it, and very effective it was. 
Applied by the men on many occasions during the war, 
it often retrieved mistakes of higher authorities. It is, 
however, not a method to be recommended for exporta- 
tion; its use should be confined to France and its applica- 
tion to Frenchmen. 

"On this occasion the 'Systeme D/ combined with good 
staff work, gave excellent results." * 

In the battle of Verdun the positive aspects of System D 
stood France in good stead against the organized fury of arms, 
which was intended to crush to death, under the walls of this 
historic fortress, the reserves of the French nation that the 
German Supreme Command knew would be rushed to the 
defense of a key-position and of the military honor of France. 

The most impressive manifestation of the positive aspects of 
System D seems, however, to be the vitality which France has 
shown throughout her history her genius for survival. The 
incessant surf of the world's greater and smaller interests and 
troubles has already blurred in the memory of outsiders the 
picture of France in the World War. Bled white, France did 
not go down in despair and anarchy, but stood upright 
throughout the ordeal, supported to be sure by her friends and 
official Allies. The world knows the terrible destruction 
visited upon France but can scarcely grasp its true horror and 
extent, and, therefore, forgets to marvel at the vitality of 
France. Upon his first experience with French casualties on 

1 From Liaison, 1914, by Brigadier General Spears, 1931, p. 66, reprinted 
with special permission by Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc., New York. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 331 

large scale, Dr. Harvey Gushing wrote, in admiration of the 
stoicism of the French soldier: 

"Saturday, April 24 [1915]. This afternoon, in response 
to a call to the Ambulance for all of its many cars, Boothby 
and I went in one of them to La Chapelle, which is the 
present single distributing station gare rtgulatriceioi: 
all the wounded forwarded to Paris. . . . The impressive 
thing about it is that it is all so quiet. People talk in low 
voices; there is no hurry, no shouting, no gesticulating, no 
giving of directions nothing Latin about it whatsoever. 
And the line of wounded tired, grimy, muddy, stolid, un- 
complaining, bloody. It would make you weep." 1 

Throughout the fifty-two interminable months of trial by fire, 
iron, and gas the French nation, despite its millions of killed, 
wounded, maimed, homeless, and bereaved, maintained a truly 
admirable stoicism. As a fitting epilogue to the story of the 
losses sustained by France in the war of 1914-1918, Admiral 
Wemyss, the chief British delegate at the armistice negotia- 
tions, wrote in his diary: 

"Sunday, Nov. 10 [1918]. Yesterday morning we mo- 
tored to Soissons. Truly a dreadful sight not one single 
house is habitable. The cathedral is literally torn in two. 
Going through the streets gave one the impression of visit- 
ing Pompeii." 2 

Such Pompeii, on a gigantic scale, the World War left behind 
in some ten departments in the east and northeast of France; 
it also left one or several deaths in almost every French family. 

1 From Leaves from a Surgeon's Journal, by Harvey Gushing, an Atlantic 
Monthly Press Publication, Boston, 1936, p. 43. Reprinted by permission of 
Little, Brown & Co. 

2 The Life and Letters of Lord Webster Wemyss,. London, Eyre and Spot- 
tiswoode, 1935, p. 392. 



332 THE FRENCH MIND 

In the World War, as before in the course of her long history, 
France showed vitality and resourcefulness in maintaining her- 
self which seem to justify the motto inscribed upon the coat- 
of-arms of the city of Paris, "Floats, but does not sink" 
(Fluctuat nee mergitur). France has survived several great 
national crises. After each such crisis, she would swing back 
into her stride, "mingling work and pleasure with the tradi- 
tional economy of her race," * and making fun of her troubles. 
Indeed, France has shown the power of negotiating her his- 
toric course, no matter how dark the tide, how stormy the sea. 
The positive qualities of her national character evidently com- 
ppnsate for its defects. To recall the celebrated saying of the 
French historian, Albert Sorel, two assertions in international 
politics have always proved temerarious and have been refuted 
by history; the one is that England is a sick man, and the 
other, that France is lost. 

. Above all it is necessary to remember that no notion of 
France can be held valid unless it envisages France as a nation 
of patriots. 2 Through the national trials and triumphs, aber- 
rations and accomplishments whether political, social, mili- 
tary, or cultural die invincible attachment to the land and 
spirit of France on the part of the French of all social, eco- 
nomic, cultural, and religious conditions and points of view is 
a constant that runs through all variables; it is indeed a cruci- 
ble which brings all differences to unity. 

Few are the countries which would be justified at the present 
time in making a statement about the philosophy of life of 
their youth, freely expressed, similar to the conclusion result- 
ing from the study of a questionnaire recently addressed to 

1 Bertaut, J., Pans 18701935, New York, D. Appleton-Century Co., 1936, 
esp. pp. 16, 295. 

2 Cf. Hayes, C. J. H., France, a Nation of Patriots, New York, Columbia 
University Press, 1930. 



POLITICAL RATIONALISM 333 

representative members of the French postwar youth of both 
sexes between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five years 
students, factory workers, industrial and commercial appren- 
tices, and beginners in liberal professions. The first problem 
with which the survey concerned itself was the "conception of 
France" professed by the young: What assets and liabilities 
did the past of France seem to have passed on to the young 
generation? What did the young wish the France of the fu- 
ture to be? What was the substance of France, in the opinion 
of the young, and what element in the French heritage ap- 
peared to them the most precious? What destiny did the 
young wish to assign to France in the world at large ? What 
position did they wish France to maintain in her relations with 
her colonies and with the nations of Europe, both friendly 
and hostile? 

Summarizing the replies received, the director of the survey 
writes in a chapter entitled, "Frenchmen All": 

"The Communist party itself has declared allegiance to 
the 'French tradition' and has called forth to the support 
of its new political orientation the spirits not only of the 
heroic French patriots of the eighteenth century, but also 
those of the fifteenth century; it has annexed Marceau and 
claimed the inheritance of Joan of Arc. No wonder, 
then, that it is difficult to find a young Frenchman, to 
whatever social class he may belong, who would not show 
an ardent devotion to his country and who would not be 
anxious to qualify first of all as French his general attitude 
toward life and even his political and religious opinions 
and beliefs." 1 

What an enviable record! 

1 De Lignac, X., "Enqute sur la Jeunesse," Revue de Paris, i & septembre 
1937, PP. 42 ff. 



BOOK THREE 



THE GERMAN MIND 



Chapter VI 



THE BASIC DISCORD OF THE GERMAN MIND 



THE GERMAN, A DIONYSIAN NATION 

"THE Germans are a peculiar species that I cannot compre- 
hend/' Talleyrand complained in a letter to Caulaincourt. 1 
Those were the Germans of the period of romanticism, the 
French Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars. Nietzsche de- 
clared, after haying seen his nation of thinkers and poets build 
with blood and iron the formidable Bismarckian empire: 

"As a people made up of the most extraordinary mixing 
and mingling of races, perhaps even with a preponderance 
of the pre-Aryan element, as the 'people of the centre' in 
every sense of the term, the Germans are more intangible, 
more ample, more contradictory, more unknown, more 
incalculable, more surprising, and even more terrifying 
than other peoples are to themselves: they escape defini- 
tion, and are thereby alone the despair of the French. It 
is characteristic of the Germans that the question, 'What 
is German?' never dies out among them." 2 

Conducting what he termed "a little vivisection of the Ger- 
man soul," Nietzsche criticized Goethe for making Faust com- 
plain to Wagner of the discordant impulses which struggle 

1 "Talleyrand et Caulaincourt," Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 octobre 1935, 

o 



p. 813. 

2 Beyond Good and Evil, Paragraph 244. 

337 



THE GERMAN MIND 

within himself for undivided reign: "Two souls, alas, dwell in 
my breast!" Nietzsche thought that this was "a bad guess at 
the truth ... far short of the truth about the number of 
souls." x That number, Nietzsche, if he knew it, did not give, 
but confined himself to musing as follows: 

"The German soul has passages and galleries in it, there 
are caves, hiding-places, and dungeons therein; its disorder 
has much of the charm of the mysterious; the German is 
well acquainted with the by-paths to chaos. And as every- 
thing loves its symbol, so the German loves the clouds and 
all that is obscure, evolving, crepuscular, damp, and 
shrouded: it seems to him that everything uncertain, un- 
developed, self-displacing, and growing is 'deep.' The 
German himself does not exist, he is becoming, he is 'de- 
veloping himself.' " 2 

An anecdote about the Englishman, the German, the 
Frenchman, and the Russian, who agreed to write in one brief 
extemporaneous sentence the definition of their respective na- 
tions, presents the German character. According to the story, 
the Englishman wrote, "I am"; the Frenchman, "I love"; the 
Russian repented, "I sin." When the German's turn came to 
read out his definition of himself, he asked to be excused so 
that he might take a walk and "think it over." 

In attempting to work out our definition of the German, 
which after much abridgment still fills three long chapters, we 
have followed as best we could the example of the German of 
this story to the extent of taking an excursion through Ger- 
man history in search of the key to the puzzle. On this excur- 
sion, inevitably hurried, we have gathered a reading of the 
enigma. Believing in the existence of two German souls, 

1 Beyond Good and Evil, Paragraph 244. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 339 

which Goethe discerned as lodged side by side injheGerman 
breast, we are convinced that one of these i^t^litarianisp^ 
and that the other is "infinitism." The^on^ 
desire for worldly oneness or wholeness; this desire expresses 
itself in the individual's identifying himself with or plunging 
into an earthly interest or task or goal. "Infinitism," on the 
other hand, consists in the otherworldly longing f 6F"the infi- 
nite, the yearning to embrace the truth and being of the divine. 
The inner life of the typical German and of the German na- 
tion as a whole seems to move alternatively around these two 
basic axes; this movement possesses a greater depth and im- 
petus than is the case with any other nation. The alternation 
in question, or, to borrow from the Hegelian terminology, the 
"dialectics," between the totalitarian attachment to finite 
things, on the one hand, and the yearning for the infinite on 
the other, is uneven in duration and unforeseeable, except for 
the inevitable alternate reappearance of each as shown by 
history. 

There is a symbol for this fundamental reality of the Ger- 
man national psychology, perhaps a more tangible symbol 
than the one suggested by Nietzsche. The symbol is found in 
the anthropomorphic religion of the ancient Greeks, anthro- 
pomorphic gods being a personified catalog of magnified 
human capacities and foibles, achievements and f ailings, as 
well as of human reactions to cosmic forces. 

The Greek pagan theology, in its later and more refined 
phase of development, offered for the worship of the believers 
two principal and distincdy different gods, Apollo and 
Dionysus, evidently to suit two prevalent bents of the human 
mind. As an anthropomorphic god, Apollo symbolized the 
creative and motivating power of human reason and rational 
knowledge; Dionysus, the power of the emotion and the 



340 THE GERMAN MIND 

knowledge gained by irrational means such as the more or less 
inarticulate "feeling" and intuition. Apollo, the god of light, 
pierced with the eye of his mind through all darkness; he was 
the god who knew, who was the universe mirrored in the clear 
mind. Dionysus, on the contrary, was the god who felt, who 
penetrated with his overpowering emotion the deepest mys- 
teries of life and who was the universe that can be grasped by 
the deep heart. 

The two opposite tendencies or polarities are, like the polari- 
ties of the masculine and the feminine, found in every indi- 
vidual and in every nation. Yet normally one of tie polarities 
is predominant and lends definite character of masculinity or 
femininity, Apollonianism or Dionysianism, to the individual 
and the nation. Thus the French, we trust, may be recog- 
nized by our readers as an Apollonian nation. The Germans, 
we believe, are a Dionysian or, in the terminology of Spengler, 
a Faustian nation. Individual Germans and the German na- 
tion have their Apollonian hours; but whenever the call of 
the Dionysian resounds, "Apollo recedes before Dionysus." * 

The Apollonian, stripped of its mythological wrappings, is 
the realistic, rationalistic, matter-of-fact attitude of mind, fond 
of precise calculation and averse to intuitive divination, which 
is dear to the Dionysian. The Apollonian values a clear, 
though limited, possession, a lark in the hand, more than an 
eagle in the sky, such as readily captivates the imagination of 
the Dionysian. The Apollonian is more desirous of cultivating 
well a little garden than of conquering vast and vague gran- 
diose expanses that fascinate the Dionysian. The Dionysian 
is, indeed, all that the Apollonian is not. If the Apollonian 
intellectually is more in the nature of mathematical, scientific 

1 Womnger, W]., Gricchentum und GothiJ^ Munchen, R. Piper & Co. Ver- 
lag, 1928, S. 32. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 34! 

analysis, the Dionysian is mysticism, metaphysics, lined up 
with the longing for the Absolute. In art, the Apollonian is 
sculpture and architecture, the Dionysian is music. In states- 
manship, politicsj and finance, the Apollonian is analytical 
administrative craftsmanship and legalistic leadership; the 
Dionysian is more in the nature of vision, the leadership of a 
prophet who appeals to the Gemut and the Gefuhl; but it is 
also the intoxicating exultation of the seer and the inebriating 
ambition of the conqueror. 

Greek pagan thought knew two conceptions of the god 
Dionysus. The more ancient and cruder conception pictured 
him anthropomorphically as essentially the power presiding 
over the human capacity for the orgy, for physical and mental 
passion. Dionysus was, in this line of pagan thought, the god 
who had been torn to pieces by the Titans but was mysteri- 
ously born again from himself as young and beautiful as be- 
fore. He represented the mystic power, and above all, the 
ecstasy of generation and procreation. The worshipers of the 
god who conceived him in this cruder, physically passionate 
form, especially women, held nightly revels in his honor, 
danced by torchlight on the mountain-tops to the sound of 
cymbals. They would tear to pieces the sacrificial animal, 
drink its blood with wine, and so participate in the being of 
their god. 

Later the cult of Dionysus was philosophized, so to speak, 
and spiritualized under the influence of the Orphics, who 
taught that the soul was imprisoned in the body as a punish- 
ment for sin, but was capable of salvation by purification. In 
this newer, Orphic, version corresponding to a higher stage in 
the development of pagan religious thought, Dionysus became 
the glorious suffering god who from the torment of laceration 
and the agony of death mysteriously rose to new life through 



342 THE GERMAN MIND 

a mystic inner power. The later Dionysians sought to par- 
ticipate in the exalted being of their god and to penetrate into 
the inmost secret of nature, the mystery of generation of all 
life, and thus to carry their search to the last sealed door of 
existence through ascetic speculative effort, through spiritual 
elevation mingled with a passionate impetus for worldly self- 
assertion. It is this version of Dionysianism that perhaps sym- 
bolizes certain human capacities and weaknesses, certain dis- 
positions and methods of thought and action which seem to be 
found in the German people more commonly and in a more 
pronounced degree than in the other nations that are the sub- 
ject of our present study. 

German Dionysianism, with its oscillations between some 
earthly "total" and the otherworldly infinite, interests us in 
this study above all with relation to the influences which their 
Dionysianism exercises upon the strength and weakness of the 
Germans as a nation, and upon education toward nation lead- 
ership. The influences in question seem to come to fruition 
by several main and clearly banked channels but also by un- 
expected inlets and unsuspected currents. Among these the 
Dionysian fraternization with nature and shyness before de- 
tached, dissecting analysis seem to merit special attention. 

THE DIONYSIAN FRATERNIZATION WITH NATURE 

"He understands nature," Madame de Stael said of Goethe, 
"not merely as a poet, but as a brother; one might say that he 
stands in family relationship to air, water, flowers, trees, in- 
deed, to all the primitive beauties of creation and speaks their 
language." x This typically German attitude has, as is char- 
acteristic of Dionysianism, two dimensions, so to speak, one 

I'Allemagne, Paris, Charpentier, p. 191. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 343 

totalitarian and another inspired by the longing for the infi- 
nite. The German's mystic communion with the German soil, 
his adoration of the German forests, and his love for the Ger- 
man rivers alternate with the pantheistic devotion to the uni- 
versal nature as the civitas Dei, the godly, creative mother- 
nature which was celebrated by Johannes Scotus Erigena and 
Meister Eckehart. His feeling of a mystic consanguinity with 
the native soil and, in general, with the outdoor nature of the 
homeland can become, however, under an appropriate stimu- 
lation, a mighty source of national patriotic impetus, especially 
in time of war; then the element of "totalitarianism" in his at- 
titude toward nature overshadows the element of "infinitism" 
and the German becomes passionately nationalistic. Among 
significant peaceful manifestations of the feeling for nature in 
everyday life, there may be mentioned that profound Dionysian 
enjoyment of nature (Naturgenuss) which has made Germany, 
though one of the most industrialized countries of the world, 
the least urbanized one; the German love for nature has pre- 
served the nation from the debilitating, nerve-shattering effects 
of industrialization and urbanization. When his means do 
not permit him the luxury of hiking, camping, or satisfying 
his Wanderlust by travel, when, in general, the German can- 
not go to nature, he brings nature to his dwelling, even in the 
form of modest flower pots and flower boxes arranged on 
window sills and inside the house, apartment, or room. 

The solidity of the German nerves owes also not a little to 
the Laubenkplonien in the suburbs of large cities: 

"These Laubenf^olanien consist of hundreds of rectan- 
gular miniature gardens, each one with a little shack 
('LaubS) and usually with a few fruit trees. There, the 
proud owners, mostly people from the lower middle class 



344 THE GERMAN MIND 

and the 'working class/ raise potatoes and vegetables, and 
above all, flowers. During the summer months, they live 
in their primitive bungalows and put all their spare time 
into garden-work. Nobody may claim that he knows the 
German people who has not walked through a Lauben- 
\olonie, who has not seen men, women, and children at 
work and at leisure in their gardens, who has not ob- 
served the religious zeal with which each garden is cul- 
tivated. For Germany (where gardening is a popular 
hobby) the Laubenfolonien represent a relatively success- 
ful attempt at solving the problem of leisure in an epoch 
of decreasing working hours. It is from this angle espe- 
cially that the plans of the New Germany must be evalu- 
ated to build factories in the country where every worker 
can be provided with his garden." * 

Communion with nature is achieved* by the method of feel- 
ing and for the sake of feeling, not by an intellectual under- 
standing. Goethe has happily expressed this attitude of mind 
in the beautiful verse: 

"How is the rose possible? 
Who can fathom the nightingale?" 

The element of "infinitism," that longing for the infinite, 
which the German feeling for nature contains, has been a 
rather important contributing factor in the spread of the inter- 
national influence of the Germans. The German's fraterniza- 
tion with nature makes him an excellent farmer in whatever 
continent or climate he may settle; America, with its variety of 
the original national stock among the farmers, furnishes an 
especially rich field of observation. His feeling for nature 

1 Koischwitz, O., Germany, Milwaukee, Gutenberg Publishing Co., 1935, 
pp. 64 . 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 345 

also makes him a good colonizer, and for two reasons. First, 
he rapidly becomes acclimated in the new country, more rap- 
idly than any other national group of immigrants; he puts his 
roots into its soil, because of the element of cosmopolitanism 
in his love for nature: 

"There as here, the holy heaven 

God will spread o'er me. 
And the stars will sing my lullaby, 
There as here." 

Second, his love for the natural beauty of the country of his 
new residence creates for the German a welcome, a link con- 
necting him with the community, such as the Englishman can 
make for himself only in a very limited degree, and the 
Frenchman practically not at all. 

The German's intense feeling for nature is, to be sure, well 
known. It runs through German literature, with its profes- 
sion of worshipful awe for the mighty phenomena of nature; 
the loving diminutives for animals and friendly beauties of 
nature are also characteristic. The peculiarly German per- 
sonification of natural phenomena are too well known to be 
enlarged upon here. 1 It seems justifiable, however, to look 
further into the German's companionship, or rather com- 
munion, with nature as an unusually powerful restorative for 
the nation's nerve-energy, particularly in time of war. 

In the songs of the minnesingers, Walther von der Vogel- 

iThe latter has found a curious reflection in the following passage of 
Johann Rabener's Condemned to Uve, a novel characteristic of the postwar 
disorganization. "Frau Beate Feuerhann's day always began with the severe, 
minute inspection of her face. ... It was also her habit to call her wrinkks 
by Christian names, those women's names she considered ugliest bo tnat 
her note-book contained mysterious memoranda: 'Get nd of Kunegonde, 
finish off Emma, powder down Adelaide, etc.'" New York, Doubleday, 
Doran & Co., 1935, P- 49- 



SHE GERMAN MIND 

weidc and Neidhart von Reuenthal, forests, hills, flowers, 
foliage, even grass are mysteriously so many brothers and sis- 
ters of the heroes of strife or love. In their joys and sorrows 
those inanimate phenomena of nature mystically participate; 
the heroes turn to nature for guidance and revelation concern- 
ing imminent changes of fortune. 

It is certainly not a mere accident that the German high 
commanders in the World War, the sons of their Dionysian 
race, give in their memoirs much more attention to the phe- 
nomena of nature, preceding or coincident with an important 
military operation, than do the French commanders. All the 
outstanding generals in the World War were, in substance, 
men of the same kind of training, that of general staff officers 
before the war. Their memoirs, therefore, exhibit the same 
mathematical manner of describing their operations; figures 
of the various units of men and of war munitions, the geog- 
raphy of the front and rear, the distribution of reserves, and 
ways and means of communication fill their pages. Yet the 
German commanders in the World War very much like the 
minnesingers would find time to stop and describe some 
natural phenomena which had no technical military signifi- 
cance but which undoubtedly had an emotional significance to 
the author of the memoirs. The French generals, on the con- 
trary, proceed in their memoirs very much in the manner of 
the troubadours and trouveres who did not arrest the flow of 
the story in order to describe the mysterious voices of nature; 
the Apollonians proceeded from fact to fact, hastening to relate 
what happened to the hero next and what were die conse- 
quences. 

Field-Marshal von Hindenburg, a man of few words, who 
is very brief and concise in his reminiscences, nevertheless in- 
terrupts his account of the final preparations for the great 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 347 

battle that was to begin at the zero hour of March 21, 1918, 
when three German armies were to fall upon the two southern 
armies of Field-Marshal Lord Haig, as follows: 

"The feeling of tension under which we had left Spa 
on the evening of March 18 increased as we were enter- 
ing the headquarters at Avesnes. The brilliant sky of early 
spring, clear until then, began to be covered. Menacing 
rainbows spanned the locality." 

As if he feared a bad omen and tried to drive off a disturbing 
thought, von Hindenburg records: 

"In themselves, the clouds and rain in these days were 
not disagreeable to us because they probably veiled our 
last-minute preparation for the attack." * 

No like deviations are found in the memoirs of Joffre or Foch. 
An outstanding German submarine commander, Captain 
Ernst Haschagen, while relating the tense experience of an 
attack upon his submarine by a British destroyer, interrupts 
his dramatic account to describe how beautiful was the sun in 
the emerald aquarium of the deep sea where the submarine 
had saved herself. Referring to the last war voyage of his 
craft at the close of the World War, a short time before the 
armistice, the author concludes in the following sentimental 
Dionysian strain: 

"Having turned back home we could for a long time 
hear the weeping of breakers rushing on the rocks of 
the lonely islands. The sea-gulls lanced their plaintive 
calls and the squall whistled its eternal song over the ex- 
panse of the waters." 2 

1 Aus meinem Leben, Leipzig, Verlag von S. Hirzel, 1920, S. 316. 

2 La Bruyere, R., "La guerre sous-marine racontee par les AUemands," 
"Revue des Deux Mondes, I st mai 1934, p. 149. 



348 THE GERMAN MIND 

And perhaps nowhere in the voluminous literature of war 
memories outside of Germany can anything be discovered sim- 
ilar to the Dionysian passages that are found in the account 
of a subaltern fighting in the spring of 1918. On the night 
before the beginning of the battle, while awaiting in the 
trenches the zero hour, he writes: 

"Out there on all roads and in all dugouts a hushed, 
mysterious movement is going on. And yet how restfully 
still are the star-lights! Tomorrow will be a sunny day. 
The crescent moon is suspended in the west like a glitter- 
ing scimiter. One can understand the Middle Ages with 
their passion for reading fiery celestial signs. Now the air 
around has become filled with absolute quiet. Can one 
not hear the earth breathe? Is not a partridge calling? 
Harbingers of spring will be soaring. . . ." 

With the evening of one of the closing days of the abortive 
Friedenssturm the author connects the following recollection, 
which is permeated with a typically Dionysian communion 
with nature: 

"After a whole week of splendid spring sunshine, the 
Thursday of Easter week had brought on gray clouds and 
the interminable showers of rain began to fall upon the 
ground. Only seldom can one now see the sun throw its 
pale rays through the overcast sky, as if its strength had 
been exhausted. So, too, is the force of the German armies 
exhausted. With the last spasmodic breath they struggle 
against the sinister fate which draws on behind the menac- 
ing clouds." a 

1 Goes, G., Der Tag X: Die grosse Schlacht in Franfyeich 21. Marz 
5. April 1918, Berlin, Verlag Tradition, 1933, SS. 14, 15, 162. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 349 

The following two abstracts from war letters of German 
university students may also be of interest for their richly 
tender phraseology inspired by the Dionysian companionship 
with nature: 

"I rejoice in the beauties of nature; in this summer-like 
Renoir autumn of the canal and the Aisne; in the ever- 
shimmering, ever-rustling avenue of elms. The hedge- 
bordered meadows take on a bluish tinge from the rising 
mist on the brink of the water, and a faint, blue-green re- 
flection is mirrored below. This green, flourishing wilder- 
ness is woven in summer's threads of autumn-tinted, soft- 
toned wools. One can hardly look into the dazzling blue 
sky. In the tangled grass blooms an exquisite miracle 
the autumn crocus. Long, slender, pale-lilac flowers, with 
their wonderfully varied length of petal, and the pistil, 
thickly coated with scented yellow pollen, shining through 
the frail calyx. Their delicate stems are snow-white in the 
heat. Sometimes one sees here the 'classic' landscape of 
Poussin, of Bocklin. I realize how art is determined by 
landscape. I have drunk all that my eyelashes could en- 
circle of the world's golden superabundance." * 

, 

"Out of the gardens of the mined chateaux of Holle- 
becke and Camp we fetched rhododendrons, box, snow- 
drops, and primroses and made quite nice little flower 
beds. We have cleaned out the little brook which flows 
through the valley, and some clever comrades have built 
dams and constructed pretty little watermills, so-called 

1 A letter of Helmut Zschuppe, student of philosophy, Leipzig, born De- 
cember 29, 1899, killed September 18, 1917- German Students' War Letters, 
translated from the original edition of Dr. Philip Witkop, London, Methuen 
& Co., 1929. 



350 1HE GERMAN MIND 

'parole-clocks/ which, by their revolutions, are supposed 
to count how many minutes more the war was going to 
last. We have planted whole bushes of willow and hazel 
with pretty catkins on them and little firs with their roots, 
so that a melancholy desert is transformed into an idyllic 
grove. Every dug-out has its board carved with a name 
suited to the situation: * Villa Woodland-Peace/ 'Heart on 
the Rhine,' 'Eagle's Nest,' etc. Luckily there is no lack of 
birds, especially thrushes, which have now got used to the 
whistling of bullets and falling of shells, and wake us in 
the morning with their cheerful twittering." * 

The Germans in this regard are not unlike the Japanese 
who combine a cult of flowers, as ardent and tender as that 
practiced by a woman amateur horticulturist, with the grim 
determination of the samurai; so that it may be said of 
both that with the perfume of roses they can sharpen their 
swords. 

THE DIONYSIAN AVERSION TO THE PLAY OF 
ANALYSIS 

The average German's feeling for nature and its mysteries 
finds a counterpart in his aversion to detached analysis, and 
still more in his distrusting the play of reason for the play's 
sake. We have seen a similar attitude of mind in the English- 
man, for which the Germanic element in him is perhaps ac- 
countable. The Englishman's mind, perhaps because of his 
ethnic and historical antecedents, seems, however, to be a 
median between Latin Apollonianism and Teutonic Diony- 
sianism; he counterbalances his anti-intellectualism with emo- 

1 A letter of Lothar Dietz, student of philosophy, Leipzig, born December 
12, 1889, killed April 15, 1915, ibid. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 35! 

tional controls, which arc much weaker in his German cousin 
of the purer Teutonic attributes. 

The Dionysian is averse to irresponsible sophistic intellectual 
frolics, and he decidedly dislikes the turn of mind such as 
M. Leon Daudet sees in Marcel Proust, who was in vogue 
among the young during die decade 1920-1930: ". . . While 
Proust, with part of his brain, admires and enjoys the sight 
of something, he criticizes it with another part of his brain, 
and with a third stands watching indifferently what the other 
two are doing." * The average German is indifferent, if not 
hostile, to intellectual showmanship even when it has relation 
to some practical problems of life, such as political problems 
and theories and doctrines centered around politics. Why 
should it be so? The German's "totalitarianism," love of 
wholeness, oneness, instinctively warns him of the dangers of 
serious national and social discord implied in his very "totali- 
tarianism"; this makes the German embrace wholeheartedly 
and lose his bearing on chameleon party orientations and 
doctrines. 

Parteisucht, acrimonious discussions and dissensions among 
the multiple political parties of the fourteen-year parliamentary 
period of German political history, 1919-1933, had fatigued and 
frightened the average German, bewildered by artifices of 
political finessing, party bargaining, and party intrigues. The 
nation at large was seized by a longing for the rule of one 
man, a moral not an intellectual superman; a strong-willed 
leader whose personality would grip the national imagination 
by the sheer strength of the sincerity, actual or apparent, of his 
belief in himself as knowing through the communion between 
his inner self and the mystic voice of the people the true, and 
of course high, destiny of the nation. The power to "hear 
1 Memoirs, New York, The Dial Press, 1925, p. 265. 



35 2 THE GERMAN MIND 

voices," which would be a serious liability among Apollonians, 
is a valuable asset in a Dionysian leadership. Adolf Hitler, 
who has been called the German Joan of Arc, knew how to 
supply this need, however inarticulate, acutely felt by the Ger- 
man masses. This need could not be satisfied by parliamentary 
government, and the return of the rule of the Kaiser and the 
princes had been made impossible by their association with the 
losing of the war. Adolf Hitler addressed himself to that part 
of the population of which he said: 

"When five Germans were together, there were five 
parties. But I knew another, better Germany, invisible 
then to most other people." x 

Several observers of Germany, 1919-1933, have quoted the 
shopkeeper who bitterly complained of the quibbles and squab- 
bles of "those fellows in Berlin" and, looking longingly at the 
closed palace, recalled how secure and safe he felt when late 
at night he saw the windows in the prince's private rooms 
lighted; everybody knew that the prince worked hard and 
kept watch over the well-being of his subjects ! Very numerous 
were the Germans who felt so about the postwar parlia- 
mentary regime, and they were presumably among the first to 
swell the phalanxes of the Nazi electorate. 2 

At all events, it is a clear historical consequence of their 
Dionysian "totalitarianism," rather than a mere historical ac- 
cident, that the Germans, who since the Renaissance have 

1 Associated Press, Munich, February 24, 1935. 

2 Cf . Keyserling, H., Europe, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1028, 
p. 117: 

"A Dresden bookseller once said to me: 'Before, when we still had a King, 
I could close up my shop and go home and look up at the lights in the casde 
with a feeling of security; on holiday evenings he was still at work, on things 
beyond my understanding. Today I feel insecure. I need a close-fitting coat 
to feel safe in my skin.' Because the same thing applies to the overwhelming 
majority of Germans, democracy in the English sense is of little use to them." 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 353 

hardly been second to any nation culturally, have remained a 
sort of collective intellectual minor, politically, as compared 
with the English and the French. A nation that voluntarily 
accepts dictatorship is a nation motivated by the fear of a clash 
of political analyses and theories, which an Apollonian nation 
can well assimilate and endure. In this connection the obser- 
vation made by M. Aristide Briand in a conversation with 
Marshal Foch may be of interest: 

"You know the instincts of the Germans. They all fol- 
low their leader like wild ducks. We do exactly the oppo- 
site. Look at the "Palais-Bourbon, where my five or six 
hundred sparrows spend their time twittering and quar- 
relling." 1 

The Dionysian "totalitarianism" in thinking produces, po- 
litically, not only a willing obedience to the head of the State, 
but also a peculiar degree of credulity. Nietzsche said: 

"As Frenchmen reflect the politeness and the esprit of 
French society, so do Germans reflect something of the 
deep, pensive earnestness of their mystics and musicians, 
and also their silly childishness." 2 

Dr. Gustav Stresemann complained that he had to conduct the 
foreign policy of a people which prays not only for its daily 
bread, but also for its daily illusion. 

General Mordacq, one of the high French officials in the 
Rhine Zone during the Allied occupation, has related: 

"I continue studying German mentality. It worries me 
more and more. Each day I discover in item, side by side 
with their great qualities, like the power for work, the 

1 Recouly, R., Foch, New York, D. Appleton-Century Co., 1929, p. 282. 
2 Peoples and Countries, Paragraphs n, 15. 



354 THE GERMAN MIND 

spirit of discipline, ardent patriotism, also very grave de- 
fects, which obviously do not date from yesterday, but with 
which I was not familiar dc visu; among these defects 
which make Germans dangerous neighbors, the particu- 
larly significant defect js their extreme credulity. . . . 

"How many times at Wiesbaden, when the general po- 
litical and international situation was somewhat tense, Ger- 
mans, official personages or private citizens, would rush in 
to see me for information in connection with some abso- 
lutely extravagant news launched by their newspapers and 
information agencies! " 1 

The political significance, domestic and international, of the 
Dionysian aversion to intellectual analysis can perhaps be better 
appraised when one realizes what deep and wide roots it must 
have in the German mind to express itself in such varied and 
apparently disparate forms as, for example, an insufficient 
sense of humor, the fear of split personality, and the romantic 
Sehnsucht. 

The influence exercised on the Germans in intellectual mat- 
ters by their Dionysian "totalitarianism" is adverse to the de- 
velopment of a sense of humor for the simple reason that a 
sense of humor is in substance a form of analysis. The Diony- 
sian, in his totalitarian emotionalism, is much more apt to 
burst into Homeric laughter or fall into Homeric sobbing than 
to indulge in light jesting at the expense of himself or others. 
The origin of the bizarre in the National Socialist regime and 
the acceptance of it by the general public in Germany can be 
traced back, precisely, to their insufficient sense of humor. For 
instance, amidst the glorification of the tall, blond, pure Nordic 

1 General Mordacq, "Clemenceau en Amerique," Revue de Paris, i* fevrier 
I933> P- 577- 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 355 

race, spokesmen of the National Socialists conveniently over- 
look two obvious facts. First, some of the highest dignitaries 
of the regime are neither dolichocephalic nor tall nor blond. 
Second, it is also conveniently forgotten that some of the most 
gifted Germans of modern times, as shown in Franz Weiden- 
reich's study, Die Rasse und der Korperbau, Leibnitz, Bee- 
thoven, Kant, Goethe, for example, were dark round heads. 1 

The illusion of double personality is said to have a greater 
frequency among psychic disturbances in Germany than in 
other countries. Der Andere (The Man Within), a Tobis film 
exhibiting the dual personality theme, has had a stupendous 
success, according to the press. The somewhat strange curi- 
osity for this film and similar dramas and stories manifested 
by the German public is a phenomenon of the same order as 
their obedient and voluntary, or at least sufficiently voluntary, 
acceptance of their authorities' dicta, even of bizarre ones. At 
the root of both of these aspects of the German national psy- 
chology lies, in the kst analysis, the Dionysian totalitarian fear 
of Zwietracht, the vehement inner discord to which the Ger- 
man, because of his very "totalitarianism," is subject. 

This fear of Zwietracht, and the anti-intellectualism which 
it can generate, becomes a powerful national influence in Ger- 
many always after the nation has indulged for some time in a 
rationalistic analytical reappraisal of values. The latter is 
prone to take, though usually for a short time only, the form 

*Cf. Huxley, J. S., and Haddon, A. C., We Europeans: A Survey of 
'Racial' Problems, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1936, pp. 95 * "Already the 
difficulties in the way of a simple Nordic explanation are apparent to the 
Nazi 'intelligentsia' and they are now introducing such terms as *Nordic- 
Dinaric* and 'Baltic-Nordic' to denote certain very numerous Germans of ob- 
viously mixed type a procedure which at once robs the 'pure race' concept 
of its meaning. The nationalist German anthropologist, Kossima, in his 
Ursprung der Germanen, says that *Nordic souls may often be combined with 
un-Nordic bodies, and a decidedly un-Nordic soul may lurk in a perfectly 
good Nordic body'!" 



356 THE GERMAN MIND 

of a Bacchanalia of skepticism. The totalitarian is apt to 
plunge headlong into whatever waters he negotiates. For in- 
stance, the postwar vogue of Freudianism in Germany, espe- 
cially in Berlin, produced in the press and in the theater such 
unbridled sexualism as would have been judged obscene and 
stopped outright in many other lands. 1 It need not here be 
argued that it is contrary to historical truth to put the total 
blame for this, as the National Socialist leaders do, upon the 
corruptive and corrupted intellectualism of persons other than 
at least a certain percentage of the Nordic Germans them- 
selves. 

The Nazi * policies inspired by anti-intellectualism will be 
studied further in connection with the totalitarian conception 
of culture and the new philosophy of education. For the 
present, and as the background for those we will sketch the 
parallelism between the present-day flourishing of the Diony- 
sian anti-intellectualism and the great romanticist movement 
of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. National 
Socialism may be defined as a form of neo-romanticism; it is 
romanticism minus pantheism and sentimentality. 

Romanticism was a Dionysian revolt against the domination 
of the French rationalistic enlightenment, against that Apol- 
lonian triumph associated with the names of Voltaire, Diderot, 
D'Alembert, Condorcet, among others. Romanticism was 
anti-rationalistic; it was interested in the irrational flights of 
sentiment and imagination. To the self-assuredness of ana- 
lytical reason it opposed the lure of the mystical. Roman- 
ticism was scornful of the analytical reasoning power, as some- 
thing that merely scratched the surface of life's mysteries; it 

1 Cf. Huxley, A., Eyeless in Gaza, London, Chatto & Windus, 1036, pp. 
231, 234 f., 281. so FF 

* For the explanation of the term see p. 368. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 357 

reveled, itself, in excursions into the unfathomable depths of 
the soul, individual or collective. The romanticists sought to 
penetrate the latter through gathering and studying the crea- 
tions of folklore, which had been ignored or frankly despised 
by the blas enlightenment of the eighteenth century. 

In literature, romanticism took the form of Storm-and- 
Stress, so named after Klinger's drama, Sturm und Drang 
the revolt against the themes and especially the rational forms 
of classicism and neo-classicism. It was characterized by na- 
tionalistic interest in the dim, prehistoric, early historic, and 
medieval periods, with their epics and legends, moral tradi- 
tions, and customs; also it was characterized by respect for the 
operation of natural forces in the historical process. The 
failure of the French Revolution, with its mathematical-like 
formulas of the millennium, was attributed by romanticist his- 
torians to a vicious and self-defeating rationalistic disregard 
for those natural forces. The Germania of Tacitus, which was 
discovered in 1507, only now began to do its work of awaken- 
ing German national consciousness. In music and in the pic- 
torial and plastic arts, romanticism was the search for the ex- 
pression of and the communion with the subconscious, the 
sublime, and the infinite. In philosophy, romanticism occu- 
pied itself with the transcendental. In the philosophy of edu- 
cation, romanticism was the Rousseauist and Pestalozzian cru- 
sade for education in accordance with nature, further poetized 
through the Froebelian doctrine, inspired by the pantheistic 
idea of the child as the channel through which "the Absolute 
floweth." 

Kant, in particular, exemplifies the characteristic German 
evolution of thought. At first, he was entirely under the 
charm of the French rationalistic enlightenment. He was 
pleased with its Socratic optimism, which was based upon the 



35^ THE GERMAN MIND 

belief that the practical inevitably follows from the theoretical 
as a logical consequence; that a good action is necessarily gen- 
erated by a clear knowledge of the good; that in order to im- 
prove men, it is sufficient to instruct them; and that human 
progress is the progress of the lumtiresiht arts and sciences. 
With a totalitarian enthusiasm, Kant exclaimed: "Don't hesi- 
tate to make use of your reasoning power! Sapere audel Such 
is the teaching of the period of enlightenment." * Soon, how- 
ever, Kant shook off this spell of Apollonianism. Rousseau, 
whose bust was one of the few adornments of Kant's study 
room, had aided him in the mental evolution or, rather, revo- 
lution. "I had despised ignorant masses," Kant confesses, "but 
Rousseau put me on the right road; he taught me to value 
man." 2 It was then that Kant became, again with totalitarian 
enthusiasm, the protagonist of the supremacy of "practical 
reason" the inner voice of conscience and of character and 
will power, through which means the "practical reason" oper- 
ates. To borrow from Professor J. E. Spenle: 

"It is in order to subject Reason to a critical investiga- 
tion, to circumscribe its claims, to warn against its dog- 
matic illusions that Kant undertook his principal work, 
Critique of Pure Reason. Has he not confessed that even 
if he had 'ruined Knowledge' he had done this in order 
to 'build a path for Faith'? . . . This chasm between the 
Intellect, conceived of as a subaltern function busying itself 
with the realities of the world of senses and perceiving 
only the exterior appearances of the universe, on the one 
hand, and the great intuitions which penetrate the inner 
world, that realm of moral postulates, of practical im- 

1 Quoted in Spenle, J. E., La Pensee allemande de Luther a Nietzsche, 
Paris, Armand Colin, 1934, p. 31. 

2 Ibid., p. 40. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 359 

peratives, of religious beliefs, and of all the values and 
volitions of the inner world the only means that bring us 
into the presence of the Absolute on the other hand, 
grew ever wider in the post-Kantian idealistic metaphysics. 
, . . In opposition to the humanistic Reason, Germanism 
preached the gospel of Life conceived of as a dynamism, 
which defies all calculations, which is fraught with in- 
avoidable and salutary antagonisms, which is conducive to 
dangers and risks at one and the same time redoubtable 
and healthy, and which is characterized .by inequalities 
and aristocratic hierarchies, warlike dicta, hard and severe, 
also by the desire of expansion and the instinct for unre- 
strained domination." * 

Next, in accordance with the psychological law of German 
totalitarian "dialectical" antagonisms, the sway of romanticism 
and idealism was displaced by an ever-growing influence of 
materialism philosophical, politico-economic, and moral. The 
process began around the middle of the nineteenth century. It 
was nourished not wholly by alien influences; such material- 
istic luminaries as Feuerbach, Biichner, among others, were 
Germans. Materialism reached a high degree of totalitarian 
confusion and licentiousness in politics, in literature, in the 
theater, in the press, and in particular in the night life of the 
larger cities of Germany during the closing period of the 
World War and the decade following. The effects of that 
half-century-long ascendancy of materialism and skepticism, 
culminating in the orgies of the neo-sophistic hedonistic indi- 
vidualism of the decade 1920-1930, are being now washed off by 
the high tide of a neo-romantic totalitarian anti-intellectualisni, 
a new Storm-<md-Stress. Unfortunately, it is in the nature of 

1 Spenle, J. E., op. cit., pp. 180 E. 



360 THE GERMAN MIND 

"totalitarianism" that the present-day neo-romanticism should 
throw overboard many worth-while accomplishments of the 
previous half-century, together with its false gods and un- 
healthy exaggerations. Again, in accordance with the law of 
German totalitarian contrasts, or "dialectics," the present-day 
Storm-and-Stress movement, which succeeded the recent rise 
of materialism, is more impetuous, more pervading, in a word, 
more totalitarian than its forerunner, the great romanticism, 
which displaced at the turn of the nineteenth century the com- 
paratively mild materialistic rationalism that was in vogue dur- 
ing the later part of the eighteenth century. 

Especially important for the comprehension of the moral 
crusade undertaken by the National Socialists, interwoven as 
it was with their quest for political power, is the fact that the 
neo-romanticist Dionysian revolt against the new Apollonian 
domination of materialistic rationalism and its moral and po- 
litical implications arose at the turn of the present century 
among the school youths of Germany. This movement, the 
former participants of which now play a prominent role in the 
National Socialist regime, is known as the Jugendbewegung. 
It had several branches, Migrating Birds (Wandervogel), Free 
German Youth (Freideutsche Jugend), Path Finders (Pfad- 
finder), with later cross sections, like the one attempted by the 
Socialists the Socialist Youth which was soon paralleled by 
the Catholic Youth Association. As a whole, however, the 
Jugendbewegung, in its original form and in all its branches 
basically was the expression of the same longings and yearnings 
of the German youth. 

For its participants, the Jugendbewegung was an escape from 
the sophisticated stuffiness and debilitating artificialities of the 
Apollonian urbanism into the Dionysian communion with 
nature, operated through extensive hiking, camping, fraterni- 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 361 

zation with the very soil of the fatherland. The younger ado- 
lescents found in the Jugendbewegung the welcomed change 
from too rigid a school and home discipline a glorious 
Robinson-Crusoe-like adventure under the mild supervision of 
truly understanding teachers. The older boys and girls came, 
or were brought, to draw romantic inspiration from a contrast, 
perhaps exaggerated, between the baffling, faithless, sophistic 
word-juggling of the city-rooted literature on the one hand, 
and on the other, the old German myths and legends told and 
discussed around the campfire, the folk songs and dances per- 
formed for the entertainment of their hosts, the villagers. The 
young people were also led to perceive the difference, perhaps 
overstated by their leaders, between the eccentricities of the in- 
dividualistic bohbme where everyone was a self-indulging law 
unto himself and a dubious measure of all things, on the one 
hand, and the warmth of group life combined with strictly 
observed proprieties of language and behavior even the in- 
dulgence in smoking being held an offense leading to expul- 
sion on the other; between the hypocritical mannerism of 
the urban social intercourse and the frankness and friendliness 
of the camp and hostel life, where instinctive modesty and 
decent inhibitions were cultivated. The thoughts and talk of 
the older adolescents were, not unnaturally, often centered on 
the corruptions of an unrestrained profit system as contrasted 
with the good fellowship, actual or imaginary, of agricultural 
masters and workers. 

The first generation of the former participants of the Youth 
Movement, before it found political spokesmen, or exploiters, 
in the National Socialist movement, had found literary expres- 
sion and inspiration in the works of Waggerl, the Austrian 
cousin and advocate of the "Back to the Soil" movement; also 
in the writings of Hermann Burte, the author of Wiltfeber, 



362 THE GERMAN MIND 

the Eternal German, the eloquent celebrant of communion 
with nature and the prophet of war on the "poison-generating" 
intellect. These and some foreign writers like Pearl Buck met 
with an enthusiastic reception among the young awakening 
Dionysians and neo-romanticists, prior to the announcement 
of the "Blood and Soil" formula of Hitler, Rosenberg, and 
Krieck. But perhaps even more significant was the philo- 
sophical influence of Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West. 
Professor Spenle gave an apt appraisal of that influence: 

"The Occident has, according to Spengler, fallen into 
the lowest phase of civilization it has known, the one char- 
acterized by moral senility and arteriosclerosis. In vain 
had Germanism brought to the Occident, while it was in 
the throes of the decadence of the Roman Empire, the re- 
serves of an intact youthf ulness, of a fresh new blood at the 
same time as it injected into the Occidental mind the un- 
spent exploratory energies, that longing for the dynamic 
infinite, transformer of the real. Those energies and that 
yearning constitute the true contribution of the Nordic 
man, or, to use the favorite expression of Spengler, 'the 
Faustian man.' Rationalism, mechanization, industrialism, 
and urbanism, are so many clear symptoms of deep deca- 
dence. The spirit which makes its imprint on the present- 
day Occidental civilization and which is called 'socialism' 
permeates it. It is for the German youth to understand 
that times have revolved, that it is necessary to renounce 
the false sentimentalities and reveries, above all, the intel- 
lectual refinements of decadent civilization. Having com- 
prehended this, they should understand also that their real 
task is to devote themselves to the practical needs of the 
future, which are essentially political needs. . . . The Ger- 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 363 

man youth ... has enthusiastically applauded his criti- 
cism of the Occidental spirit and has listened with undi- 
vided attention to his appeal for adopting new purely Ger- 
man ethics of work and conduct." x 

To the neo-romantic graduates of the Youth Movement, the 
lads and lasses who camped and hiked through the country 
in the course of the years 1900-1914, Adolf Hitler could not 
have had a better introduction than when pictured in his 
knickers and with a knapsack, hiking in the Bavarian moun- 
tains or gazing intently over the plains that stretch north- 
ward and thinking his "German thoughts." They recognized 
in him a kindred Dionysian soul, combined with an unusual 
will power and daring. Whatever may have been the Fiihrer's 
artifices of propaganda, 2 he is, in substance, a profoundly 
Dionysian nature. As characterized by Herr Georg Schott, 
the author of a biography of Hitler, Volfybuch vom Hitler, 
so far the only one approved by Hitler, the Fiihrer is a 
Johannisnatur, a "Midsummernight temperament" How, 
indeed, without reference to his Dionysianism can one explain, 
for example, his choice of banner in many regards incon- 
venientthe swastika, purported to be the symbol of undying 
and regenerating life? The manhood and womanhood of 
1930-1933 which voted and acclaimed Adolf Hitler into su- 
preme power was not shocked or annoyed by the introduction 
of the new German greeting, Heil Hider; in their camps and 
hostels they had used the word "Heil" in place of the conven- 
tional forms of salutation. From the campfires around which 
the decadencies, actual or imaginary, of the rationalistic west- 

1 Spenle, J. E., op. cit., pp. 186 ff. 

2 Cf . Mowrer, E. A., Germany Puts the Cloc% Bac^ New York, William 
Morrow and Co., 1933, especially the chapter, "A Showman of Genius"; also, 
Stead, W., Hitler: Whence and Whither? New York, Review of Reviews 
Corporation, 1934. 



364 THE GERMAN MIND 

ern civilization were subjected to a fiery criticism by the 
]ugendbewegung adolescents of two decades ago, the road was 
easily made to the Third Reich * bonfire of the books written 
by actual or imaginary corruptors of the German people. It 
was made under the double influence of the National Socialist 
teachings and of a reaction to the postwar unbridled licen- 
tiousness, political and moral, of the materialistic bohtme and 
communistic agents. Freedom of thought, as Herr Gottfried 
Benn explains in his study, Der neue Stoat und die Intdlec- 
tuellen (1933), appeared to a great many people in Germany 
as freedom for destruction. 

The wanton postwar rationalistic wit and irresponsible Apol- 
lonian frolics of skepticism and satire, coupled with the com- 
munistic agitation for a Marxist, materialistic, "proletarian" 
revolution, had filled with horror the Dionysian; they threat- 
ened to rob him of all inner equilibrium. The old saying of 
Goethe was recalled, "It is easy to be witty when one has re- 
spect for nothing." x This Dionysian fear of Zersctzungshybris, 
disintegrating ideas, closely relates the pre-Hitler neo-romantic 
Youth Movement to the National Socialist anti-intellectualistic 
crusade in defense of pure Germanism, in which campaign 
Dionysian "totalitarianism" contributes to a confusion between 
the nationally useful and the simply irrational. In the happy 
words of Herr Friedrich Sieburg, a man of moderate political 
views: 

"National and irrational merged into one; the exhorta- 
tion to be reasonable encountered a defiant insistence on 
the claims of the national, with the inevitable result that 

* For the explanation of tlie term see pp. 405, 408, 415, 419. 

Cf. Dietrich, O., Die philosophischen Grundlagen des Nationalsozialismus 
Breslau, 1934; Sharp, C., "Hitler Will Stay: German Dialogue," The 
Age, August, 1933. CT 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 365 

anyone who acted irrationally thought that he was acting 
nationally, and that, conversely, anyone who essayed the 
difficult task of acting rationally was decried as anti- 
national. How unjust and yet how natural!" x 

This Dionysian atmosphere was not created by the National 
Socialists but was skillfully exploited by them and intensified. 
Their rise cannot, however, be fully understood without view- 
ing a little more closely the German's natural political bent. 

THE TOTAL MAN AND THE TOTALITARIAN STATE 

When Adolf Hitler condemned in strong language the 
"halfness" of the Germany of the Weimar Constitution, that is 
the period of time 1919-1933, denounced "this entire Sodom 
and Gomorrah," pilloried the educational philosophy which 
"fostered halfness," and demanded the restoration in educa- 
tion and government of the ideal of "total man," uncompro- 
misingly devoted to the solution of "the important problems 
of life," 2 his words fell on receptive ears. His fellow-country- 
men drank up the totalitarian wine of his message. One of 
the two basic emotions of their heart the other being the long- 
ing for the infinite is, as we have already pointed out, the 
desire for Ganzheit, wholeness, oneness of purpose and effort, 
which is the substance of the juror tetrtonicus, that German 
impetus which was noticed by the Romans in the earliest Ger- 
man arrivals at the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire. 

In order to visualize more clearly the workings of German 
"totalitarianism" in the organization and conduct of govern- 
ment, it may be useful first to consider, for example, the ex- 

1 Sieburg, F., Germany, My Country, London, Jonathan Cape, 1935, p. 236. 
2 Mein Kampf, Miinchen, Verlag Franz Eher Nachfolger [Edition 1930], 
SS. 258, 269, 271. 



366 THE GERMAN MIND 

pression of this basic trait of the German mind in some sig- 
nificant non-political matters like the tendency to monistic 
thinking and in the wholeheartedness which the typical Ger- 
man shows in the pursuit of his Beruj or 'Pack, a vocation or 
profession. 

In French philosophy eclectic doctrines have prevailed; Eng- 
lish philosophy has been characterized by a preference for 
dualistic or pluralistic doctrines, "compromise" doctrines which 
acknowledge more than one ultimate reality. German philos- 
ophy, on the contrary, has been predominantly monistic. The 
history of German philosophy has been marked by the pre- 
valence of doctrines which uncompromisingly maintain that 
the ultimate reality is just one in number, idealism asserting 
that it is spirit, and materialism clamoring that the true and 
only reality is physical or material, that is, knowable to our 
five senses. It is, certainly, not a mere geographical accident 
either, that the new important contemporary school of thought 
in psychology, Gestdtpsychologie, has originated in Germany. 
The fundamental position of the Gestdt school, which is often 
designated in English as "wholeness psychology," is, so to 
speak, totalitarian; it is to the effect that the human mind 
reacts as a whole to the situation as a whole, rather than in 
separate responses to separate stimuli, as the behaviorist school 
asserts. 

This Dionysian fondness for monistic thinking, that is for 
reducing, even at the price of deceptive oversimplification, the 
complexity of phenomena to the working of just one principle, 
has found an interesting reflection in certain postwar plans 
for the restoration of economic optimism and the re-establish- 
ment of Germany's prewar high industrial and commercial 
position in the world. Coal, in which Germany remained rich 
even after the loss of some important mining regions under 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 367 

the Treaty of Versailles, was declared the philosopher's stone. 
The people were taught that no country is worth more, as a 
world power, than the quantity and quality of its coal, on 
which count Germany stood very high. The expression was 
coined, paraphrasing the ancient philosopher, "Coal is the 
measure of all things." The coal dust was pronounced the 
subtle but all-pervading dyestuff that colors modern civiliza- 
tion, and the foundation of the future of Germany was said to 
rest on coal The most advanced modern nation was defined 
as the one that can extract the greatest amount of energy from 
a pound of coal; the Germans were advised that their political 
wisdom and political science both with regard to internal and 
foreign affairs should be based on the knowledge of the coal 
industry (Staatsweisheit muss Kohlenweisheit werden) and 
that the German people should think, politically, in terms of 
coal. 1 

It must be borne in mind, also, that National Socialism as 
a political doctrine is a totalitarian conciliation as well as a 
skillful utilization of two powerful forces which used to neu- 
tralize or defeat each other, namely, nationalism and social- 
ism. We take the latter term in the sense of a struggle, cost 
what it may, for greater social justice in the distribution of 
wealth as the means of well-being; and we employ the term 
nationalism to designate the sentiment of ownership and par- 
ticipation in the sovereign possessions, economic interests, and 
spiritual ideals and aspirations, past and present, of the nation. 
Nationalism was represented in Germany, as elsewhere, by the 
classes of stronger economic status. The masses of econom- 
ically insecure laboring people were not irresponsive to the 
voice of the national folklore, created, indeed, by anonymous 

1 Baumont, M., La grosse Industrie allemande et le charbon, Paris, Gaston 
Doin ct C-ie, 1928, especially pp. 668 ff . 



368 THE GERMAN MIND 

members of popular masses, nor to the voice of national pride 
and vital interests. They could be, however, and actually 
were readily swung into the belief, preached by most socialist 
parties and especially by the socialist extremists known as 
Communists or Bolshevists, that social justice cannot be hoped 
for except through the international effort of organized Social- 
ists or Communists, as the case may be, through the war of 
all laboring classes upon all property-owning classes of the 
world. The success of this war was promised and its acquisi- 
tions were to be consolidated by the obliteration of all national 
differences, beginning with boundaries. As long as the na- 
tional State did not make an earnest effort, or at least did 
not make the promise, to secure for the masses a greater degree 
of well-being, especially a larger measure of economic security, 
the masses were deviated from their natural nationalism by 
their desire for social justice, which was kept stirred as well as 
exaggerated by socialistic and communistic propaganda. The 
Hitler party, the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei 
(the National Socialist German Workers' Party), in abbrevia- 
tion Nazi, has promised to achieve a measure of social justice 
within the framework of the national heritage and aspirations, 
rather than in the orthodox socialistic and communistic in- 
ternationalism. 1 
With relation to the German's wholehearted interest in 

x Cf. Krieck, E., Nationalpolitische Erziehung, Leipzig, Armanen-Verlag, 
I 933 S. 42: "National Socialism fat term indicates the content, the purpose, 
and the meaning of the movement. Through socialism, nationalism receives 
a new content, while socialism obtains through nationalism a new purpose 
and the possibility of realization. National Socialism is the expression of 
revolutionary principle; as such it gives direction to us in solving our com- 
mon national problems, racial, political, economic, cultural, and educational, 
which have been set to us by our vital needs, our history, and our destiny 
The term National Socialism is the symbol which embraces the movement as 
a whole (das alles umfasst der symbolishe Name der Bewegung in der 
TotaLitat) . ' 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 369 

his occupation, M. Jacques Riviere, in a volume entitled 
UAllemand: reflexions d'un prisonnier de guerre, aptly re- 
marked that work is not to the Germans the painful obliga- 
tion and punishment which it often is to others, but that they 
go into it with their whole heart, as if yielding to a powerful 
mania, and fall back into work as others fall back into sin. 
Marx and the Marxists have erred in failing to realize that the 
German temperament makes the average German worker 
little receptive to the Marxist talk about labor as a merchandise, 
and to the promises of easy work and abundant leisure under 
the communistic regime. The German likes work almost for 
its own sake, and his leisure is, more often than not, occupied 
by an intensive hobby, in which again he rather cherishes than 
shuns hard work. Spengler's idea of "the new ethics of work, 
specifically German ethics," 1 opposed to the point of view 
which regards working hours as hours of damnation, is much 
more comprehensible to the average German than the Marxist 
thunders against the hardships and horrors of hired labor in 
a capitalistic society. Some students of German affairs ex- 
pected a serious weakening of the Nazi regime through res 
oeconomicae, as a result of the outside world's disapproval of 
the excess of the Nazi policies, domestic and international. 
The masses seem, however, prepared to respond sympatheti- 
cally, on the whole, to the Nazi appeal summarized in Julius 
Schmidhauser's Kampf urn das geistige Reich fat exhortation 
to show the world an unprecedented example of an Arbeits- 
volT{, a nation strong by reason of its devotion to work and 
capable of gaining an economic Sedan in the great economic 
world war and of winning a high place in the world through 
victory in the great battle of labor. 
From the university teacher, who does, perhaps, the most 

1 Spenlc, J. E., op. cit., p. 187. 



370 THE GERMAN MIND 

far-reaching creative work, to the cemetery guard, who does, 
probably, the least creative labor, the Germans practice a 
totalitarian devotion to work. What William James wrote 
about Wundt would be true of the average German university 
instructor: 

"He isn't a genius, he is a professor a being whose duty 
is to know everything, and have h|s opinion about every- 
thing, connected with his Fach. Wundt has the most 
prodigious faculty of appropriating and preserving knowl- 
edge, and as for opinions, he takes au grand strieux his 
duties here. He says of each possible subject, 'Here I must 
have an opinion. Let's see! What shall it be? That I 
will do, etc., etc.'" 1 

In a letter of General Mangin, who certainly was not the 
mildest adversary of Germany in the World War, written 
during the postwar occupation of the Rhine Zone, there is 
found the following passage: 

"Visited the cemetery. . . . The graves of our prisoners 
of war of 1871 and the World War are excellently kept, 
in fact, so well that I gave a hundred marks to the chief 
attendant of the cemetery for his men." 2 

Totalitarian as he is in his thinking and in his devotion to 
his occupation (Beruf or FacA), the German naturally expects 
from his supreme political and military authorities above all 
an undivided devotion to duty; he would much rather have 
as a leader a man of single-track mind, fierce, shall we say 
Cyclopean, or at times even blind in his pull at the rudder, 
than a suavely discursive and wittily analytical skeptic. His 

1 Letters of William James, Boston, Little, Brown & Co., 1920, Vol. I, 
pp. 263 f. 
3 "Lettres de Rhenanie," Revue de Paris, i & avril 1936, p. 485. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 371 

fellow countrymen could not have bestowed on Bismarck 
a distinction higher, in his own and in the German public's 
eye, than the nickname of the Iron Chancellor. Contrary to 
the rationalistic Apollonian conception of a superman as an 
intellectual genius, the German's ideal of national leadership 
is a moral superman, a man unflinchingly obedient to the 
"categorical imperative" of his outlook upon life, in other 
words, to the exacting voice of his conscience. A French 
biographer of Ludendorflf, General Buat, found neat expres- 
sion when he characterized Ludendorff as follows: 

"In this man everything holds together. He is made of 
one piece he is a monolith. The success of Germany 
being the sole object of his endeavor, everything is sub- 
ordinated to this goal, all means are good." * 

Better known to the public and more genial, Fieldmarshal 
von Hindenburg won the affection of the German masses not 
only by the victories, which were in reality achieved thanks 
to Ludendorff's superior generalship, but, precisely, by his 
"monolithic" character, his Siegfriedian, unbending devotion 
to duty, and the grim effort to beat the overwhelming coalition 
of the Allied empires. The average German saw in the sol- 
dierly face of the gray-haired general the "total man," the 
reincarnation of the German titanic vitality and the primeval 
impetus harnessed to the pursuit of a single goal. 

Hitler is given, in the official Nazi publications, among 
other qualifications, also that of the "man made of oak," ein 
Mann aus Eichenholz? Whatever more serious or less serious 

1 Buat, E. A. L., Ludendorfi, Paris, Payot, 1920, p. 260. 

2 See the very interesting and valuable source book on the person of Hitler 
and on the Nazi movement compiled by a group of equanimpus opponents: 
Havorka, N. [Editor], Zwischenspiel Hitler: Ziel und Wir%lich%eit des No* 
tionalsozidismus, Wien-Leipzig, Reinhold-Verlag, 1932, S. 139. 



372 THE GERMAN MIND 

defects as a man and the master of the destinies of Germany 
will be found in him by the future historian, Hitler has a total- 
itarian, indeed, ascetically "monolithic" devotion to the labors 
and duties of his office as he understands them. This Dionysian 
totalitarian trait has won him favor with the masses of the 
Germans, not less than another important Dionysian peculiar- 
ity the mystic, fanatical belief in the rebirth of the aboriginal 
irresistible Germanism which had defied and then partially 
destroyed and supplanted for centuries the Roman Empire 
itself. 1 

Hitler has repeatedly announced to the world as for in- 
stance in March, 1936, on the occasion of the remilitarization 
of the Rhine Zone that "there are not two or three different 
opinions in Germany but only one." His opinion makes the 
law of the land. General Goering justified the summary 
execution on June 30, 1934, of an unknown number of Hitler's 
opponents among the Nazi themselves by declaring that orders 
of the Leader were "the law and will of the people" and 
needed no further justification or explanation. 

Words and acts like these do not shock the average German, 
totalitarian in his political instinct, any more than did Luden- 
dorffs doctrine of total war (der totdc Krieg). In it the 
eminent totalitarian general seeks to refute the old theorists 
like Clausewitz, who thought that war was a phase of politics 
and one of the possible roads of the historical evolution of a 
nation. To Ludendorff, war is the only road to a brighter 
future; this road shall be taken by the entire nation, men, 
women, and children. The "total war" shall begin without 
the formalities of a declaration of war and shall be conducted 
without mercy, no effective means of destruction of the enemy's 

iHavorka N. [Editor], Zwischentpiel Hitler: Zid und WirtyiMeit des 
Nationdsoziahsmus, Wien-Leipzig, Reinhold-Verlag, 1932, S. 139. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 373 

life and property to be scorned because inhuman. It is inter- 
esting to note that the readers and admirers of Ludendorff 
seem to forget, in their totalitarian resignation or thrill, as 
does the Kriegsherr Ludendorff himself, that the future "total 
war" may turn out to be a boomerang as did gas, the sub- 
marine, fire-throwers, etc., in the World War. 

To the monistic, totalitarian mind, the idea must remain 
alien of a pluralistic or democratic State, that is a national 
government which is based on a reasonable compromise be- 
tween various interests and conflicts, individual and collective, 
within the nation, and which seeks thus to achieve the great- 
est happiness of the greatest number. 

To show their contrast, the political creeds of some out- 
standing Englishmen and Germans should be recalled. John 
Stuart Mill taught that the best form of government is the one 
in which the sovereignty, or the supreme power, is vested in 
the entire aggregate of the community; it is the best because 
it promotes a higher form of national character than any 
other. To Nietzsche, on the contrary, democracy is not only 
a degenerate form of politics, but it is also an expression of a 
degenerating, declining type of man. 

Hegel taught that the individual cannot have any claims 
against the State. To Hegel, the supreme governmental au- 
thority is the mystical General Will, the will of all for the 
good of all as over against the individual will for the good of 
one at the expense of all. The individual, reasoned Hegel, did 
not securely possess in the pre-State condition even the right 
to live; his life could be taken from him by any man stronger 
or craftier than himself. The State, on the other hand, pro- 
tects the individual's life which cannot be taken from him 
with impunity by anyone, but, logically, can be claimed by the 
State alone. The individual then has no rights against the 

NM-25 



374 THE GERMAN MIND 

State to which he owes all his rights because from it he has 
received the basic right the right to live. Only under the 
protection of the State can the individual's spirit develop. 
The Reason of History instructs, Hegel was convinced, that 
Subjective Freedom, the individual's freedom, can be realized 
only through Objective Freedom "the laws of red Free- 
dom"; the mere Contingent or Subjective will must be sub- 
jugated to the General, or Objective, or Rational Will, guided 
by the Absolute Spirit. 1 To the English mind the political 
doctrine of Hegel, doctor subtilissimus, suspiciously resembled 
the point of view of a typical Prussian official. 2 To Dean 
Inge, for example, the "common will" is "a stick for the backs 
of minorities, who are first deprived of any effective representa- 
tion, and are then invited to admire the 'justice' and 'true 
liberty' under which they are flayed." 8 Spengler, on the other 
hand, writing under the regime of the Weimar democracy 
(that is, the political regime governed by the Constitution 
adopted by the National Constituent Assembly that sat at 
Weimar in 1919), proved a faithful interpreter of the totali- 
tarian instincts of his nation when he said: 

"What Metternich meant by 'chaos' which he tried to 
avert from Europe as long as possible by resigned and un- 
creative activity, by maintaining and preserving the exist- 
ing state of things, was not so much the decay of the sys- 
tem of individual national states, with its balance of power, 

1 Hegel, G. W. R, Grundlinien der Philosophic des Rechts, oder Natur- 
recht und Staatswissenschajt im Grundrisse, Berlin, Eduard Cans, 1821, B. 
VIII; Vorlesungen uber die Philosophic der Weltgeschichte, Leipzig, Verlag 
von Felix Meiner, 1920, Bde II-IV, esp. B. IV, "Die Lage der Gegenwart," 
SS. 932-938. 

2 Wingfield-Stratford, E., England Muddles Through, New York, The Mac- 
millan Company, 1932, p. 872. 

8 More Lay Thoughts of a Dean, New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1932, 
p. 297. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 375 

as it was the decay in the individual countries of the dig- 
nity of the State (Staatshoheii), a conception which is 
now almost lost to us. What we recognize as 'order' today 
and express in 'Liberal' constitutions, is nothing but 
anarchy become a habit. We call it democracy, parlia- 
mentary national self-government, but in fact it is the 
mere non-existence of a conscious, responsible authority, 
a government that is, a true State. 1 ' * 

To the average German a willing obedience to the authority 
of the State is a necessary and sublime reality of group life 
the attitude of mind which National Socialism has merely 
revived and intensified but because of which the half-hearted 
liberalism of the post-Bismarckian period (1890-1914) and the 
experiment of the Weimar Constitution (1919-1933) were 
destined to be short-lived. The totalitarian cannot accept the 
motto, c fluribus unum; his motto is, ex uno unum; to him 
the State must be one will and the personality of the State 
can be realized in one person only. He therefore welcomed 
Hitler's promise made in Mein Kampf, several years before the 
Fiihrer's advent to power: 

"There shall be no majority decisions, but only those 
of responsible individuals, and the word 'council' (Rat) 
will be restored to its original meaning. Decisions shall 
be taken by one man, though he will have by his side' 
advisers whom he may consult." 2 

1 Reprinted from Hour of Decision, by Oswald Spengler, New York, 1934, 
p. 34, by permission of and special arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 
authorized publishers; in the original, Jahre der Entscheidung, Miinchen, 
Beck'schez Verlag, 1933, SS. 23 f. 

Note: To avoid misunderstanding, it must be mentioned that though the 
Fiihr,er is in accord with Spengler's fundamental concept of the totalitarian 
State, he disapproves of Spengler's contempt for the masses. Himself "a child 
of the masses," Hitler does not want to be a Caesar after Spengler's model. 
Heiden, K., of. cit., p. 334. 2 Op. cit., p. 501. 



376 THE GERMAN MIND 

The republican parliamentary governments, national and 
local, established in Germany under the confusion of defeat 
in the World War were never more than fragile creeping 
plants which had their precariously short roots in a few cracks 
and splits formed, as a result of exhaustion from the war, in 
the surface of the bed rock of the German anti-parliamentarian 
political "totalitarianism." The facility with which the So- 
cialists came at the close of the World War to a position of 
predominance in the government of Prussia herself was en- 
tirely deceptive. It was made possible by the political con- 
fusion and indiff erence of the middle and the lower middle 
classes, unaccustomed to self-government and well satisfied 
with the paternalistic rule of the princes. The place made 
vacant by the abdication of the hereditary rulers was left in 
substance unoccupied until it was filled by the National So- 
cialists, who answered the Dionysian qualifications for Ger- 
man leadership. With a facility which may appear almost 
miraculous unless the Dionysian peculiarities of the German 
mind are recalled Adolf Hitler disposed of the Socialist- 
Centrist parliamentary regime. It had remained on the mere 
surface of the body national and could be easily brushed off: 

"The last Parliament, to which the name of free can 
with a tinge of propriety be applied, met in the Kroll 
Opera House in Potsdam, a symbolic spot. ... To the 
accompaniment of cat calls, the speaker declared the 
Reichstag dissolved until it pleased the government to 
summon it again. The dictatorship was established in 
legal form; the German republic ceased to be." 1 

It is, indeed, a revealing historical fact that a quite impres- 
sive number of German men and women, while their civic 

1 Clark, R. T., The Fall of the German Republic, London, George Allen 
and Unwin. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 377 

liberties were fully respected and protected by the demo- 
cratic parliamentary government under the Weimar Constitu- 
tion, voted of their free will into supreme power the man who 
had denounced democracy as an alien, un-Germanic regime 
of weaklings and hypocrites; the man who said and was 
generally enough believed that he was in communion with 
the true spirit and destiny of Germany and knew best what 
was good for the German people; the man who was con- 
vinced, and declared his conviction in no uncertain terms, that 
the paragon of all government was the military and civil or- 
ganization and administration of Prussia, 1 which, of all Ger- 
man lands, was exalted, and correctly, by the Nazi as the 
"quintessence of Germany" (disulliertes Deutschland). 2 There 
was nothing shocking or jarring in such a program of gov- 
ernment to the ear of the totalitarian German public. 

The German public, further, seems unperturbed by the lack 
of practical clarity in the basic principle of the Hitlerian State, 
"the necessary connection between absolute responsibility and 
absolute authority." s The absolute character of the Fiihrer's 
authority being evident, 4 the nature of his responsibility is 
vague indeed, for it appears to be excluded by the very fact 
of his absolute authority. To whom can a man be answerable 
who is "the law of the land" ? The Kaiser used to say, whether 
sincerely or not, that he was responsible before God. The 
Fiihrer is much less explicit in the expression of his attitude 

1 Mein Kampf, cit., S. 501. 

2 Schmahl, E., Der Aufstieg der nationalen Idee, Stuttgart, Berlin, Leipzig, 
Union Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft, 1934, S. 159. 

3 Mein Kampf, cit., S. 502. 

4 The Reichstag, by the Enabling Act of 1933 extended for another quad- 
rennium in 1937, gave absolute power to the Chancellor-and-Leader, Herr 
Adolf Hitler, and his Cabinet. The Enabling Act provides that the Cabinet 
may make laws by ordinance, even including such laws as are not in accord 
with the Weimar Constitution (which has not yet been formally abrogated). 



378 THE GERMAN MIND 

toward the Supreme Being. So his only judge appears to be 
his own conscience, with its unforeseeable Dionysian move- 
ments. 

Once voted into practically unlimited supreme power, Hitler 
has been sustained amidst domestic economic difficulties and 
international diplomatic tension by the proverbial German 
totalitarian habit of trustful obedience to the State, which 
Nietzsche called "the lust for believing and obeying." * The 
Fiihrer's demand for Gleichschdtung, the universal national 
"co-ordination," which in reality means the subordination of 
everybody and everything to his dicta, does not seem seriously 
to antagonize the masses of Germans even after the excitement 
of the installation of the new regime and the exultation of the 
new hopes have lost at least a certain degree of their initial 
grip on the national emotion. 

The German totalitarian obedience to the totalitarian author- 
ity of the State embodied in one man must not, however, be 
taken for pure and simple servility to a political boss or bosses. 
It is, rather, what Dr. Richard Miiller-Freienf els, in his study 
of the psychology of the German people, calls freely accepted 
discipline as a form of social cohesion (die sozide Bindung 
durch freimllig ubernommenen Zu/ang).* Barring the 
sporadic individual cases of interested or cowardly servility 
pure and simple, from which no people is free, the true basis 
of the German's willing and almost cheerful constant obedi- 
ence to the State in all matters is his sentiment of ownership 
and participation in the great body national; it is the sensa- 
tion of being a cellule, however microscopic, of a colossal or- 
ganism, towering over the outside world the sensation of 

1 Cf. Tschupick, K., Ludendorff: Die Tragodie des Fachmanns, Wien und 
Leipzig, Verlag Dr. Hans Epstein, 1930, S. 390. 

2 MuUer-Freienfels, R., Psychologic des deutschen Mensches und seiner 
Kultur, Munchen, Oskar Beck, 1922, SS. 92-104. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 379 

being at one and the same time master and servant, which 
makes the German both proud and docile. Consequently, the 
German totalitarian political temperament exonerates the 
Fiihrer from all inner contradiction when he, on the one hand, 
calls the German citizens to practice obedience to the will of 
the State as complete as the subordination to the military dis- 
cipline demanded of a soldier, and when he declares, on the 
other hand, that "it is a greater honor to be a citizen of the 
Third Reich than King in a foreign land," and pronounces 
the German citizen "the master of the Reich" (far Hen des 
Reiches). 1 

The truth of the matter is, however, that this sovereign is, at 
best, reduced to a dubious exercise of authority from the wrong 
end, so to speak. The Fiihrer described his method of con- 
sultation with the nation as follows: 

"I shall not say, 1 should like to take this step, but first 
I must secure support; I must be protected by a vote.' No. 
The National Socialist leadership will never take that 
attitude. First it will make its decision, then say to the 
people: 'Now we have taken this step, pass judgment on 
it!'" 2 

Maurice Barrs, analyzing the mentality of the German 
victors in the Franco-Prussian War, showed felicity of expres- 
sion when he said of Herr Asmus, the mobilized young pro- 
fessor, "proud of the pride of the King of Prussia" who had 
just been proclaimed the Emperor of Germany in the Gallery. 
of Mirrors at Versailles, the palace of Louis XIV: 

"Hereditary war-like sentiments, for a long time dor- 
mant in the young professor, suddenly came to life. He 



Kampf, cit. t S. 491. 
2 Wireless to the New York Times, Weimar, July 4, 1936. 



380 THE GERMAN MIND 

rejoiced as in a virtue at finding himself deprived of in- 
dividuality and become one humble molecule in a great 
body." 1 

One of the Fiihrer's lieutenants, Baldur von Schirach, was 
in all probability entirely sincere when he wrote in a song, 
intended for the repertoire of the Hitler Youth: 

"Free we are through service; 
In it we find a higher freedom than in independence!" 

Had not Goethe said that obedience to genius was the highest 
form of freedom? At all events, a nation made of merely 
servile or stupidly obedient individuals cannot ever achieve, 
under the conditions of modern international competition, a 
cultural, industrial, and military strength like that possessed 
by Germany. 

Grave dangers, nevertheless, not only to the outside world 
but also to the welfare of the German nation itself, are in- 
volved in the totalitarian obedience, even though of a philos- 
ophized kind, to the totalitarian State. The present-day leaders 
of the Third Reich and the vast majority of its adult inhabi- 
tantsover twenty-five years of age received their education 
and enjoyed free development under the previous regimes: 
those of the Kaiser and the Weimar Republic. Will their suc- 
cessors not be handicapped, even in so far as German national 
interests alone are concerned, by the regime of strict controls 
now prevailing? The Fxihrer and his immediate subordinates 
appear to realize this in their Apollonian moments, but are 
perhaps unable or unwilling to draw the necessary practical 
conclusions and to relax their control of the life of the nation. 

As never before, not even in Prussia during the reign of 

1 Colette Baudoche, New York, George H. Doran Co., 1918, p. 88, 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 381 

William I, the harsh father of Frederick the Great, when at 
least the upper class enjoyed many liberties, the German nation 
is now subjected, still perhaps willingly enough, to the un- 
limited supreme authority of the State (Staatshohrif) invested 
in the person of the Leader and Chancellor of the Third Reich. 
The Dionysian masters of Germany, the Fiihrer and his clos- 
est associates and advisers, understand well, at least they un- 
doubtedly ought to do so in their Apollonian hours of cool 
analysis and self-criticism, the danger of making the nation 
under their control into a people of bent backs, rather than 
of squared shoulders, on which a nation can be borne up to a 
stable position of power in the modern world. They under- 
stand, even though they are apt to forget it in their Dionysian 
intoxication with power and impetus, that, to paraphrase 
Keyserling, the man of ability inherited from the previous 
regimes can be retained just as a draught-horse, a creature 
"without significance" 1 but hardly can be fostered under 
the conditions of the totalitarian control. Hence the several 
pages on the value of personality written in Mein Kamff, 
which strike an unprejudiced reader as additional sophistry in 
support of the personal rule of the Fiihrer and his lieutenants. 
The exegesis of the real or supposed thought of the Fiihrer 
on personality is interesting as given by Dr. Alfred Rosenberg 
in his volume, Der Mythus des 20. ]ahrhundertsf for this 
book is next in importance, among the National Socialist 
sources of inspiration and guidance, to Mein Kcmpf itself. Dr. 
Rosenberg, whom the Fiihrer is reported to believe the bright- 
est among his lieutenants and the only one worth reading even 
by the Fiihrer himself, was given the highest distinction the 

1 Keyserling, H., op. cit., p. 117. 

2 This tide should read in translation: The Creative Faith of the Twentieth 
Century, 



382 THE GERMAN MIND 

Third Reich can bestow on an author. A copy of the Mythus 
des 20. Jahrhunderts was deposited side by side with a copy of 
Mcin Kamff in the concrete of the cornerstone of the National 
Socialist Convention House, laid by the Fiihrer during the 
convention in the fall of 1935, in Nuremberg (a preferred 
community of the Third Reich because it is the scene of the 
beginnings of the Nazi rise to power). The manner in which 
Dr. Rosenberg seeks to reconcile the universal Gleichschaltung, 
after the model of the Prussian army, with the cultivation of 
the inner self (the free personality of the individual) deserves 
mentioning because, among other reasons, it is one of the 
bases of the philosophy of education in the Third Realm. 

Dr. Rosenberg assigns a new meaning for the current ideas 
of freedom and authority; this new meaning is suggested to 
him by his "racial-spiritual philosophy of life." The national 
character, reasons Dr. Rosenberg, though it is not "single- 
racial" in its origin, is not the result of an evenly proportionate 
admixture of the various races which entered into its com- 
position; the national character is dominated by the "basic 
race," which decides the nation's general culture, political 
temperament, and general outlook upon life. Since both the 
personality of a racially normal individual and the national 
type are, in "their deepest source," one and the same thing 
that is the creation of the dominant single blood strain there 
cannot be any real discord or opposition between the full ex- 
pression or "realization" of the individual and the "realiza- 
tion" of the national type. Properly enlightened, every true 
German is capable of "perceiving intuitively the primeval Ger- 
man type of man," that "spiritual-racial" creator of German- 
ism; as a result, a new or better a new-oldtype of national 
living is created, the mode of living natural for the "new and 
German type of man, rectangular in body and soul." It is the 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 383 

duty of a true German government to contribute by rigorous 
discipline to the propagation of the "racial-spiritual" form in 
order to offset the subjective, deceptive practices of false free- 
dom on the part of the individuals "sunk in licentious sub- 
jectivism and the conventional point of view." Thus, con- 
cludes Dr. Rosenberg, the "Nordic racial soul" is created, the 
primary characteristic of which is "the inner recognition of 
the racial type as the highest value and the guiding star of the 
total existence" of the Germans. 1 

The future historian will find out how much, or how little, 
success the National Socialist period in the history of Germany 
achieved in the realization of that miraculous combination of 
dictatorship and freedom, and of that wondrous union between 
totalitarian obedience to the functionaries of the State and 
unhampered development of personality. Our own task is 
restricted to comprehending the present-day Germany rather 
than predicting the future of diat nation, except indirectly, in 
so far as a definite philosophy of education for leadership can, 
if functioning over a sufficiently long period of time, foretell, 
of itself, at least some features of that future. As a further 
preparation for a subsequent study of the National Socialist 
theory and practice of education for leadership, we will now 
briefly review the thoroughgoing and all-embracing controls 
exercised by the totalitarian State over the fundamental as- 
pects, spiritual and physical, of the life of the nation. 

1 Rosenberg, A., Der Mythus des 20. Jahrkunderts, Munchen, HohejMlchen- 
Verlag, 1930, SS. 497 S. 



384 THE GERMAN MIND 

THE CONTROLS EXERCISED BY THE TOTALITARIAN 
STATE: PHILOSOPHICAL, CULTURAL, BIOLOGICAL, 
RELIGIOUS 

"National Socialism must be a philosophy of life," * is one 
of the principal commandments guiding the National Social- 
ist leaders. This commandment is doubtless inspired by a 
clear insight into the national psychology. Fond of the "mono- 
lithic" character in men, the totalitarian German mind is best 
motivated for action and self-sacrifice by a philosophy of life 
which is made of one piece of philosophical cloth, so to speak; 
in which everything holds together, or seems to, and into 
which the action and personal sacrifice, projected>or demanded, 
fits. Men of all nationalities and races are better prepared to 
engage wholeheartedly in an arduous action when they grasp 
the broader, ultimate meaning of the goal. The pragmatic 
justification of an action by the mere immediate importance of 
a problem is, however, a sufficient motivation, capable of 
stirring and sustaining the vital energies, individual and col- 
lective, with some nations other than Germans. A general 
outlook upon life, destiny, and upon life's transcendent values 
is a far greater necessity for a German than for others, as 
a motivation for a powerful action. A general outlook upon 
life can arouse him to a very dynamic and yet sustained action 
once he is brought to form a "monolithic" or monistic philos- 
ophy of life, "made of one piece," 

The Fiihrer must have fully understood this peculiarity of 
his nation, which Keyserling characterizes in a well-taken 
simile to the effect that if the German should be offered to 
choose between going straight to heaven or first going to a 

1 Havorka, N., Zwischenspiel Hitler, cit., S. 179. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 385 

lecture on heaven, he would surely choose the lecture. Fully 
understanding this national peculiarity, Hitler had strenu- 
ously and patiently lectured for ten years on the future de- 
lights and grandeurs of the Third Reich in order to spread his 
totalitarian outlook upon life before he made a serious bid for 
power. Herr W. von Mittenburg rightly analyzed the Fiihrer's 
oratory, when he said that Hitler's speeches in the prolonged 
campaign for power were "philosophical rather than polit- 
ical." x Hitler sought to instill in his listeners a total outlook 
upon life rather than to present a political argument. He 
deprecated as wrong the underlying philosophy of life of all 
the other political parties. His own doctrine of the high mis- 
sion of the German race and of the Nazi method of carrying 
it out he declared the only and the fully right one. Were 
such "monolithic," and also monopolistic, philosophical, and 
political rhetoric addressed to an Anglo-Saxon audience, it 
would have antagonized not a small percentage of listeners, 
who always like to hear what the other side has to say; but 
in Germany it fell on a grateful, naturally receptive soil. To 
repeat, has not the history of German philosophy been char- 
acterized by monism? 

Having planted their monistic doctrine of the Third Reich 
and the "Creative Faith of the Twentieth Century" in the 
grateful soil made of the "totalitarianism" of their people, the 
National Socialist rulers reaped the benefit in the form of ab- 
solute power which they intend to keep, using among other 
primary means also what may be called the philosophical con- 
trol, that is, the monopoly of teaching the national philosophy 
of life. On the eve of the assumption of power by Hitler, 
his newspaper, the Voltyscher Beobachter of December n, 
1932, published once more the principles that the National 

1 "Der Redner Hitler," Zwischenspiel Hitler, cit. 9 S. 149- 



386 THE GERMAN MIND 

Socialist regime expected to put into practice. The place of 
honor was reserved, in the list, for the Fiihrer's Weltanschau- 
ung: 

"The book of our Leader is for the present and the 
future the basis of the National Socialist principles. It is 
indispensable for every German and also for any outsider 
who wishes to penetrate the depth of our doctrine; it is 
the very essence of National Socialism and should be from 
now on the new bible of the German people." 

In order that this source of guidance and inspiration may 
prevail, the National Socialist State rests its philosophical con- 
trol lever on a thorough, all-pervading system of subsidiary 
gears. Among these are the ones that are trivial methods of all 
political machines various police measures of pressure and 
intimidation, and the economic control which consists in dis- 
tributing material favors such as jobs, pensions, subventions, 
credits, etc., to the particularly useful or appreciative members 
of the commonwealth. Such controls as these do not present 
any novelty or psychological riddle and they can be dismissed 
as hardly justifying a further discussion. 

But the cultural, biological, and religious controls which 
have baffled as well as distressed friends of Germany in the 
outside world but which are explicable in terms of "totalitarian- 
ism," seem to deserve a review, even though they are similar, 
in a measure, to the controls employed by any political dicta- 
torship. 

The National Socialist cultural control is, curiously enough, 
not only in harmony with Hegel's and Treitschke's totali- 
tarian conception of the Machtstaat or Tyrannenstaat as Kul- 
turstaatiht State's absolute power as the guardian and 
guarantor of national culture but also with Kuno Francke's 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 387 

conception of culture as the content of national conscious- 
ness. 1 The National Socialist State seeks to direct and shape 
after its own image everything that can contribute, directly or 
indirectly, to the formation of a "content of national conscious- 
ness." The control is divided among three high functionaries, 
the Reich Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propa- 
ganda; the Reich Minister for Science, Art, and Public In- 
struction; and the third, the Commissioner of the Fiihrer for 
the Supervision, Instruction, and Education of the Whole Na- 
tional Socialist Movement, in abbreviation the "Philosophic 
Dictator," who perhaps supervises the orthodoxy of the other 
two controllers of the National Socialist culture. Technically, 
the cultural control consists in strict censorship of all public, 
and, in so far as possible, all private utterances spoken and 
written in fact, of all thoughts expressed directly or sym- 
bolically, through plastic, pictorial arts, and music, whether in 
school, church, theater, or any assembly, including those for 
sports. 

Formerly the cradle and an outstanding nursery of academic 
freedom which was fairly respected even by authoritarian 
kings and their ministers, Germany under Nazism has par- 
ticularly shocked her friends by a method of cultural control 
which consists in a thoroughgoing censorship of teaching and 
research in higher institutions of learning. This method of 
cultural control is interesting not in itself, but in the philos- 
ophy that underlies it. Strict as it is, the National Socialist 
control of teaching and research is not much different from 
that exercised by the Fascist government of Italy, or the im- 
perial government of Japan; and it certainly is but child's play 
in comparison with the practices of the Bolshevist dictators 

1 Cf. Jockers, E., Die Deutschen, Ihr Werden und Wesen, Richmond John- 
son Publishing Co., 1929. 



THE GERMAN MIND 

of Russia, the Stalin "Constitution" notwithstanding. What 
is instructive, from the viewpoint of a student of national psy- 
chology and leadership, in the cultural control under con- 
sideration is the totalitarian Leitmotiv, the justification of the 
abolition of academic freedom. 

The Leitmotiv is provided, again, by Dr. Alfred Rosenberg, 
the principal interpreter of the ideas of the Fiihrer. In the 
Vbl^isher Beobachter of which Dr. Rosenberg is the editor, 
he has repeatedly stressed the idea that "every great culture 
is identified with a philosophy of life which gives man the 
power to mold the world"; that "a powerful political forma- 
tion is the expression of a new life-feeling." His Mythus des 
20. Jahrhunderts condemns that same freedom of research and 
teaching which made possible books written by scholars and 
philosophers to whom Hitler and Rosenberg and other high 
National Socialist leaders owe directly, or indirectly by opposi- 
tion and disagreement, many of their ideas and much of their 
very phraseology, 

Dr. Rosenberg denies the existence of any purely objective 
science, accusing those who disagree with him of "pseudo- 
scientific obscurantism." In an elaboration of this thesis, he 
lists various preconceptions such as ideas, theories, and hy- 
potheses which enter into scientific judgments and conclusions. 
He asserts that the racial characteristics of the scientist deter- 
mine these preconceptions as they do spiritual values the 
soul and race having "their own peculiar search-attitude" with 
which to view their environment. He further declares that real 
artistic and scientific creation always grows out of a single 
racial heritage and is only fully understood by the members 
of that race, having no meaning for those of other races. Con- 
veniently forgetting the scientific contributions of the races 
more ancient than the German or the "Nordic-Greek," the 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 389 

author of the Mythus proceeds to present his claim that all 
science, in the modern sense of the word, has resulted from 
"German creative power." All scientific thought and search 
for the laws underlying natural phenomena he ascribes to 
the "Nordic-Western" civilization, originated, he believes, by 
the "Nordic-Greeks" and splendidly continued by the .Ger- 
mans, beginning with the scientific work of "pious Nordic 
monks" such as Roger Bacon and Scotus Erigena. These men 
"attributed to the witness of the eye more weight than to the 
Syrian sheepskins, yellow with age," and thus contributed the 
basis for later research which resulted from a unique "out- 
look on life" and "spirit of search" rather than from "method- 
ical technicalities." 1 

The Fiihrer's and Dr. Rosenberg's totalitarian ideas on art, 
in particular, have been expanded by Professor Paul Schultze- 
Naumburg, Director of the Art School at Weimar, the author 
of Die Kunst der Deutschen, Die Kunst wnd die Rasse, and of 
the much-discussed paper, "Der Kampf um die Kunst." Dr. 
Schultze-Naumburg maintains that aesthetic content is pre- 
determined by the racial peculiarities of the artist and his 
public. Each race, Dr. Schultze-Naumburg argues, has its 
own aesthetic objectives and its characteristic aesthetic ideal. 
The aesthetic feeling of an individual is dependent upon his 
racial roots, his racial Weltanschauung. The voice of the race 
in an individual is never silent; therefore, the term "Nordic" 
is not, a geographical but a biological concept. Whoever has 
not the Nordic aesthetic feeling is not German. The fact that 
a given painter has a preference for a certain type of images 
is but an irrepressible voice of the race underlying his person- 
ality. Futurist and cubist works are always the sign of racial 
disintegration which expresses itself in fondness for picturing 

1 Rosenberg, A., op. cit., SS. n6ff. 

NM-26 



390 THE GERMAN MIND 

corporal deformities; the expressionist movement in art is the 
product of decadence, and unless it is stopped, the humanity 
of the future will indeed mirror the expressionist pictures of 
today. The National Socialist policies relative to art are, con- 
cludes Dr. Schultze-Naumburg, inspired by the desire to 
strengthen the popular affection for the German race and 
blood. In particular, he recommends that definite tendencies 
in the theater, as a method of fighting for the racial outlook 
upon life among the members of the Third Reich, be accorded 
an unconditioned realization. 1 The theater, music, and liter- 
ature were "purged" immediately after the National Socialist 
advent to power. By the fall of 1937 the turn of pictorial and 
plastic arts came. A vigorous campaign against all that the 
Nazi general staff for cultural controls considered diseased 
anti-German tendencies of cubism, futurism, expressionism, 
and dadaism in art was undertaken under the personal super- 
vision of General Hermann Goering and Dr. Bernhard Rust; 
proscribed paintings and sculptures were ordered removed 
from public art galleries. 

The first Minister for Science, Art, and Public Instruction 
of the Third Reich, Dr. Bernhard Rust, summarized his mul- 
tiple ordinances and speeches condemning the traditional prin- 
ciple of academic freedom in the address delivered on the 
occasion of the five-hundredth anniversary of the foundation 
of Heidelberg University. With characteristic totalitarian- 
Dionysian point of view Dr. Rust argued, as reported in a wire- 
less to the New York Times: 

"The Minister warmly defended National Socialist ideas 
of science and undertook to prove they did not interfere 
with 'true objectivity,' at the same time asserting su- 

1 Cf . Zwischenspiel Hitler, cit., SS. 255 f. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 39! 

premacy of the Nazi Weltanschauung and declaring that 
science which is not in accord with it is not objective. He 
said: 

" 'Hidden from the eyes of strangers a change has taken 
place in the institutions of higher education since the Nazi 
party came to power. This change has resulted from the 
fertile influence of the new Weltanschauung (Nazism) 
and racial realities. At first, however, these efforts of 
science to enrich itself from the stream of the new Wel- 
tanschauung attracted less attention than certain political 
measures taken by the State, which were made necessary 
by the Nazi revolution.' 

"The Minister then took up the charges that the present 
regime is making science the handmaiden of its political 
program. He continued: 

" The Nazi State does not need to defend its measures. 
It derives them from the fundamental right of a nation 
to form its own character. The charge of enmity to sci- 
ence is true of the National Socialist regime if the com- 
plete absence of preconceptions and predispositions, unre- 
strained objectivity, are to be taken as characteristics of 
science. 

"'We dispute such an idea of science, however. All 
great scientific systems have been supported by faith in 
the meaning of the universe and the fate of human beings. 
In setting ourselves free from the false idea of objectivity 
we achieve at the same time a concept of true objectivity 
as a characteristic of all knowledge. 

" *We refer here to our fundamental starting point in 
preconception.* 

"In familiar philosophical terms the Minister appeared 
to be arguing for the deductive rather than the inductive 



392 THE GERMAN MIND 

scientific method, with the Nazi concepts of race, blood, 
and the like in the position of ultimate and indispensable 
principles. 

"Referring to professors of the political and social sci- 
ences the Minister. stated: 

" 'We do not demand of the scholar that he praise the 
creations of the Nazi State. Nor do we regard it as his 
duty to give political actions his consecration afterward. 
We reject decreed science, but we also refuse to tolerate 
a political professor. 

"'It is thereby clear that National Socialism does not 
attack true scientific objectivity as we have defined it, 
but rather sees in it the prime necessity of its independent 
existence. 

" 'The old idea of science based on the sovereign right 
of abstract intellectual activity has gone forever. The 
new science is entirely different from the idea of knowl- 
edge that found its value in an unchecked eff ort to reach 
the truth. 

"'The true freedom of science is to be an organ of a 
nation's living strength and of its historic fate and to pre- 
sent this in obedience to the law of truth.' " * 

Whether in art or science, there is, to the Dionysian, an 
irreconcilable opposition, depicted by Ludwig Klages in his 
major work entitled Dcr Geist als Widersacher der Sede, be- 
tween the Intellect and Life, between the Wyog an( j pfog. 
The Dionysian vouches his fealty to the latter mystic entity. 
To him, there is just one living substance in the German peo- 



also "Das nationalsozialistische Deutschland und die Wissenschaft: 
Heidelberg Reden von Reichsminister Rust und Prof. Ernst Krieck," Schriften 
des Reichsinstitutes fur Geschichte des neuen Deutschlands, Hamburg, Han- 
seatische Verlagsanstalt, 1936. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 393 

pie; it cannot be rationally analyzed but can be grasped by a 
seer. The Fiihrer is one; all good Germans must therefore 
unite around him and under his command, in order to realize 
the high destiny of Germanism. Intellectuals of the old school, 
that is intellectuals pure and simple, are "separatists," and 
therefore must be removed from positions of leadership; if 
needed for technical expert service in various institutions and 
enterprises, their activities must be carefully controlled and 
watched, while the new generation of experts and leaders will 
be rising from among the Hitler Youth and alumni of the 
special National Socialist schools for the future leaders. 1 

Even more than its control of culture, the Third Reich's 
biological preoccupations and control reveal the Dionysian 
"totalitarianism" and can be explained by it. It is the total- 
itarian fear of inner split, of baffling manifoldness, the desire 
for worldly oneness that are the deep-rooted motives for the 
Third Reich's laws designed to protect the "racial purity" and 
"biological soundness" of the German people. In substance, 
these laws prohibit marriages between German citizens and 
non-Aryans, and they exclude from all forms of national 
leadership and public service, in fact, from full-fledged Ger- 
man citizenship, non-Aryans, even though German subjects 
by birth. 

Neither the economic factor, the increase of occupations 
for the Aryan Germans through the removal and exclusion of 
non-Aryans; nor the political factor, fear of alien Marxists; nor 
discourses and disquisitions of racialist scholars can fully ac- 
count for the volume and acuteness of the racialist movement 
in Germany. 

Like most other nations, ancient and modern, the German 

1 Cf. Harcourt, R. L, "La jeunesse Hitlerienne," Revue des Deux Mondes, 
i w decembre 1933. 



394 THE GERMAN MIND 

public has been several times introduced to learned theories 
on the subject of the racial superiority of pure Germans and 
to erudite expositions of a chosen people and its mission. In 
1779, Count Ewald Hertzberg, a Prussian statesman under 
Frederick the Great, published a memorandum entitled, "A 
Dissertation Explaining the Causes of the Superiority of the 
Germans over the Romans." In the first decade of the nine- 
teenth century, Fichte propounded the doctrine of the Urvol\ 
character and qualities of the German people. Around the 
middle of the century, German racialists, Richard Wagner x 
among others, took renewed enthusiasm from the racial doc- 
trine of Count Joseph-Arthur Gobineau, a French diplomat 
and man of letters, the author of Ottar Jarl (the title being 
derived from the name of Gobineau's supposed ancestor, the 
famous Norwegian pirate, himself supposedly a descendant 
of Odin) and of the Treatise on the Inequality of Human 
Races. The German racialists overlooked, self-indulgently, the 
fact that the homo linnaeus, whose racial superiority Gobineau 
glorified, was Norwegian and Norman, and that Gobineau's 
verdict went, in a sense, against the Germans, whom he de- 
clared many times mixed in blood. 2 

At the turn of the last decade of the nineteenth century, 
Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Wagner's son-in-law, the im- 
petuous and eloquent champion of racial integrity and prophet 
of the glories of the pure German race, 8 contributed to the 
revival of racialism by the publication of his work, The 

1 Wagner's political and philosophical writings, lowly rated by Nietzsche, 
have been a vade mecum of the Fiihrer. 

2 Gobineau, J. A., Histoire d'Ottar Jarl, Pirate Norwegien, Paris, Didier, 
1879; Essai sur I'inegalite des races humaines, Paris, Firmin-Didot, 1884, 
2 vols. 

8 Chamberlain, H. S., The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, New 
York, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1912, esp. Sixth Chapter: "The Entrance of the 
Germanic People into the History of the World," pp. 494-578. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 395 

Foundations of the Nineteenth Century. Hitler's racial doc- 
trine was directly inspired by Chamberlain, who received and 
blessed Hitler at Beyreuth a few years before his death (d. 
1927). 

Ludwig Woltmann published during the first decade of the 
present century several works x in which he maintained that 
the most outstanding among famous Italians and Frenchmen 
were of blond, dolichocephalic Germanic descent: for example, 
Michelangelo Buonarroti was in reality a Bohnrodt; Leonardo 
da Vinci's ancestral Germanic last name was Winke or Vincke; 
Raphael Santi was a Sandt; Botticelli, a Bott or Bottke, or 
Bodeck; Garibaldi, a Garipalt; Mazzini, a Matz; Cavour, a 
Benz; Molire, the pen name for Poquelin, was a Bocklin 
that, in general, the Renaissance was not at all a revival of 
ancient arts and sciences, but a new creation issuing from the 
genius of the German race. 

Such disquisitions were, however, above the head of the 
average member of the German middle and especially the 
lower middle class the backbone of the National Socialist 
regime. Besides, such dissertations, written and oral, on the 
subject of the long-headed pure Nordics, when addressed to 
the predominantly round-headed burghers, farmers and factory 
workers would be blatantly tactless. No, the real ensnaring 
catch of the racialist doctrine was provided by the Dionysian, 
mystic, and totalitarian talks on the general subject of the re- 
generating and all-pervading power of the good German blood 
and on the impossibility of national unity, except on the basis 
of the oneness of the blood. The National Socialist pronun- 

1 Woltmann, L., Politische Anthropologie, Leipzig, Turingische Verlagsan- 
stalt, 1903; Die Germanen und die Renaissance in Italien, Leipzig, Turin- 
gische Verlagsanstalt, 1905; Die Germanen in Frantyeich, Jena, E. Diedrichs, 
1907. Cf. Roques, P., "L'Enseignement de Phistoire dans les lycees hider- 
iens," Revue Universitaire, Janvier, 1935. 



THE GERMAN MIND 



ciamentos on the racial problem which seem to have gripped 
the masses of the Germans gravitate around the motives like 
those instanced in Dr. Alfred Rosenberg's interpretations of 
the thought of Meister Eckhart, the celebrated German mystic 
of the thirteenth century, on the power of the blood: 

"In a sermon (on Cor. i, 2) Meister Eckhart makes dis- 
tinction between blood and flesh. By blood he under- 
stands, together with St. John, he thinks, all that is, in a 
man, not subject to his will; in other words, the counter- 
part of the soul, which functions in the subconscious. In 
another sermon (on Math. 10, 28) Eckhart says: The 
noblest that is in man is the blood, when it is of the right 
kind; but blood is also the worst that men can have, when 
it is of the kind that drives them into evil.' " x 

G. Eschenhagen, one of the messengers of the Nazi regime, 
has also well reflected the "selling" racialist style in the follow- 
ing Dionysian motto: 

"The blood's spirit is the judge; 
His time will come. 
Let us prepare path for'm 
The blood and time! 
In active calm 
The Reich will ripen 
In people's bosom." 2 

The single underlying truth of the matter is, however, that 
the totalitarian cannot see that a group of people made of vary- 
ing racial stock can be a solidly united nation, commanding 

1 Op. dt., S. 243. 

2 Eschenhagen, G., Entscheidung: Befynntnis ernes jungen Deutschen Ber- 
bn-Stightz, Heinrich Wilhelm Hendripck Verlag, 193: ('TroCo 



A DIONYSIAN NATION . 397 

at^an hour of trial the particular gifts possessed by the nation- 
alities which entered into the composition of a compound 
nation. 

No other form of the National Socialist control of the life 
of the German nation, perhaps, reveals more fully the Diony- 
sian "totalitarianism" of the present-day leadership in Germany 
than the unfriendly attitude of the regime toward the Chris- 
tian religion. 

Whether camouflaged and gloved or frank and brutal, the 
war of the regime on Christianity alienates or at least pro- 
foundly disturbs not a few German men and women other- . 
wise sympathetic to the regime. Why should the governing 
group antagonize those people, without really making gains 
to compensate the regime for what it loses through animosity 
toward Christianity? Why do the National Socialist leaders 
hate Christianity, and harass the Christian organizations and 
thus place themselves in this regard next to the Communists? 

Fundamentally, two motives underlie the anti-Christian 
policies of the National Socialist regime. The minor one is 
that which the National Socialist regime has in common with 
any other political dictatorship; it is the fear that any organ- 
ization, of however a discreet non-political character it may 
be, if left independent from and uncontrolled by the dictator 
may become a rallying place for the opposition, ever latent 
under a dictatorship. It was exactly this motive, that prompted 
Mussolini irreverently to proceed with ungentle police meas- 
ures against the Catholic Youth organizations in Italy; this 
policy of the Duce had led to considerable friction between the 
Fascist Government and the Holy See which was settled, in 
the Lateran Treaty of 1929, not altogether to the satisfaction 
of the Church. The Fiihrer, however, even though indirectly, 
by countenancing various anti-Christian activities and meas- 



398 THE GERMAN MIND 

ures practiced by his lieutenants, went in his religious policies 
far beyond the measures of any modern dictatorship, except 
the communistic Soviet Government. A further explanation 
of this particular aspect of the National Socialist regime must 
be sought. It is to be found in its "totalitarianism," which is 
the major motive underlying the anti-Christian Nazi policies. 
The totalitarian has abhorrence, natural to him, of anything 
but one-hundred-per-cent Gleichschdtung\h.t total adherence 
to the regime. 

The leading National Socialists find two basic faults with 
Christianity. First, it is of non-Germanic, even non-Nordic- 
Greek origin. Second, Christianity, with its gospel of love and 
brotherhood, is the purest form of spiritual internationalism 
the world has known and is, of course, incompatible with mili- 
tant one-hundred-per-cent totalitarian supernationalism. As 
it was stated by Dr. Robert Ley, Director of the Labor Front, 
"The party claims the totality of the soul of the German peo- 
ple. It can and will not suffer that another party or point of 
view dominate in Germany. We believe that the German 
people can become eternal only through National Socialism." * 
To these totalitarian claims of the National Socialist State, the 
voice of Christian conscience can have only one answer, such 
as was made by the confessional synod of the German Evan- 
gelical Church, comprising the Lutheran and the Reformed 
bodies: "The heresy is refuted that the State over and above 
its own special task should and can become the single and 
total regulator of human life and thus also fulfill the vocation 
of the church." 2 

The National Socialist regime has conducted its attack on 
Christianity along two principal lines, which are impressively 
reviewed and refuted by Christian leaders in four important 

1 The New York Times, August 2, 1936. 2 Ibid. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 399 

documents, particularly: the pastoral letter of German Catholic 
Bishops issued in January, 1936, the memorial addressed to 
Hitler by Evangelical leaders in July, 1936, the pastoral letter 
of the Reich Conference of Catholic Bishops which met at 
Fulda in August, 1936, and the encyclical, Mit brennender 
Sorge, of Palm Sunday, 1937. 

One line of the Nazi attack on Christianity is characterized 
by measures, such as the appointment to the newly created 
office of Protestant Reich Bishop of Dr. Ludwig Mueller, an 
army chaplain and old friend of the Fiihrer, a clergyman in 
whom his National Socialist enthusiasms seem to have left 
little room for true Christian thought and sentiment; also by 
the appointment of Dr. Hans Kerrl as Minister for Church 
Affairs, who, defining his conception of his office, declared not 
without a suggestive ambiguity: "The church that Germany 
wants is not a State church, but an inwardly free, independent 
church. Guided by the new conceptions, it would, neverthe- 
less, quite voluntarily march with the State in which it must 
work and live. If order is to be established in the land, only 
one authority can exist." * 

This line of attack on Christianity has as its goal the so-called 
Germanization of the Christian faith. The tactics of this par- 
ticular strategy vary. Christ is presented in His human guise 
as descendent from a stray Nordic tribe, and in His divine 
guise as a Nietzschean, militant Christ, the founder of "posi- 
tive Christianity," somewhat after the fashion of "sans-culotte 
Jesus," or the "most radical Jacobin of Judea," preached by the 
Hebertists during the Terror period of the French Revolution. 
Psalms are rewritten; Germans are substituted for Israel in the 
psalms glorifying the virtues of the chosen people and prophe- 

1 The New York Times Magazine, March i, 1936. 



400 THE GERMAN MIND 

sying its ascendancy. Clergymen, Catholic or Protestant, are 
fined and jailed for obeying the word of God and not that of 
the Nazi ordinances. 

Another line of the Nazi attack on Christianity consists in 
promoting the ancient German pagan religion and is con- 
ducted in person by no lesser functionaries than the "Philo- 
sophic Dictator" of the Third Reich, Dr. Alfred Rosenberg, 
and the Minister for Propaganda, Dr. Goebbels, and their im- 
mediate subordinates. 1 This line of attack is inspired by the 
complete rejection of Christianity as a foreign "Judopaulinian 
doctrine," "an un-German admixture of inferiority and Jewish 
philosophy." The goal of this line of the Nazi anti-Christian 
strategy is to replace Christianity with resuscitated ancient 
German pagan religion, in order to achieve "one people, one 
spkit, one will, one energy." As a means to this end, Wotan, 
the old German god, is declared the embodiment of the 
Nordic spirit and the divine force that dwells in all pure 
Germans. 

According to the already mentioned memorandum of pro- 
test addressed to Hitler by evangelical leaders, the National So- 
cialist youth are taught through the medium of the monopo- 
listic State educational system to "regard with contempt or 
derision young people who, in the language of their teachers, 
still run to their ridiculous Evangelical or Catholic clubs, to 
give themselves up to eminently superfluous religious reveries." 

1 The position of the Fiihrer on the problem of the totalization, or rather, 
paganization of religion, is full of ambiguities. While permitting his lieu- 
tenants to war on Christianity, he does not take an open stand against it; 
occasionally, he invokes the name of God. He climaxed the campaign pre- 
ceding the referendum, when the proverbial Nazi ninety per cent of voters 
approved the re-militarization of the Rhine Zone in March, 1936, with "the 
bells of 150,000 churches throughout Germany echoing those of the famous 
Cologne cathedral; all Germans were asked, at a radio signal, to lift their 
voices in the hymn, C O Lord, make us free.' " Cf. Hitler's Vienna speeches 
after the annexation of Austria in 1938. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 401 

To facilitate its anti-Christian labors, the neo-pagan Nazi Gov- 
ernment never really allows the churches publicity to refute 
charges against them. All this work of "de-Christianization 
on the widest scale" is accompanied with a melodic chanting, 
still more or less shyly muffled, which consists in intermingling 
praises to Hitler with hints at the divinity of his person. The 
Fiihrer, protests the memorandum, "is often revered in a form 
that is due to God alone." "Human arrogance is rising up 
against God," is the fearless comment of the authors of the 
memorandum. Hitler is reminded, further, of the fact that 
he has been vested by his fanatical lieutenants "with the dig- 
nity of national priest." Indeed, Hitler supplants God in the 
fervent National Socialists' death notices; in place of the cus- 
tomary phrase, "died with belief in God," is used the formula, 
"died with belief in Adolf Hitler," or "died with belief in his 
Fiihrer." For Hindenburg, buried, contrary to his express 
will, with an admixture of semi-pagan ceremonies of torch 
procession and martial music, the new head of the Third 
Reich wished not heaven but only Valhalla; the closing words 
of Hitler's funeral oration were: "Departed General! Enter 
now into Valhalla!" 1 

To seize more clearly the totalitarian and revoltingly ab- 
surd nature of the various excesses of the Nazi religious policies, 
it may be useful to recall some of the more important modern 
forerunners of the National Socialist neo-paganism. 

Wagner, the assiduous reader of Gobineau and one of the 
strongest influences that Hitler has experienced, cultivated the 
race spirit by reviving, through his operas, the German 
mythology; he sought to place it on a pedestal with almost 
pure pagan fervor. Chamberlain, another guiding light to the 
Fiihrer, attacked the Catholic Church in his doctrine of Teu- 

1 Associated Press, Berlin, August 15, 1934. 



402 THE GERMAN MIND 

tonic Christianity. 1 During the World War a tendency existed, 
though perhaps only on a small scale, to infuse the Christian 
faith with the peculiar emotional appeal of German mythol- 
ogy. Since the war, Ludendorfi has exhibited in his biweekly 
magazine, Vol\swacht, strong neo-pagan leanings. In the 
issue published on the eve of his seventieth birthday, Luden- 
dorff reiterated his neo-pagan position: 

"I demand the unity of our people on the basis of the 
knowledge of our race, both from the bodily (biological) 
and spiritual point of view such as my wife gave us. I 
demand the unity of our people as regards law, culture, 
and economic life. 

"Such unity cannot be achieved if international doctrines 
of any kind, not only economic but also religious, hold 
sway among our people. Our people must turn away from 
foreign doctrines and Christianity. May the German peo- 
ple listen to me. May the entire people at least listen to 
me this one time on my seventieth birthday. 

"It is not hatred of Christianity; it is not hatred of super- 
national powers that are the fountain source of my struggle 
against Christian teachings and against the powers of their 
tools. The reason for my struggle lies in my love for the 
German people and for its defense force. Only because of 
this love have I become the enemy of Christian teachings 
and supernational powers." 

However illustrious, in their particular calling, may be the 
forerunners of the Nazi anti-Christian political leaders, noth- 
ing changes the fact that in its religious totalitarian control the 
regime has touched the height of folly, even when its policies 

1 Op. cit., Vol. I, pp. 320 & ., esp. p. 327. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 403 

are considered strictly from the point of view of the Nazi 
domestic and international interests. Their religious policies 
are a Pyrrhic victory. The attraction of an old cross erected 
by sincere piety in the Black Forest will no doubt survive the 
fascination of the neo-Dionysian nightly dances around the 
sacred fire, staged on those same hills by neo-pagan youths in 
bathing suits. The Upland the Savior will not be super- 
seded by Hitler; not any more than "Ave Maria" and "Silent 
Night, Holy Night" will be replaced by Nazi songs. As the 
pastoral letter of Catholic Bishops, already mentioned, justly 
notes, Germany first assumed its place as a leading nation when 
Christianity freed it from pagan darkness. Prior to that time 
the Germans had been on a level with the Huns. The future 
historian will, therefore, in all probability find the adoption 
of Christianity by Chlodwig in the year 496 a far greater act 
of statesmanship than the repudiation of Christianity by the 
Hitlerian Third Reich. The war on thp^Christian Churches 
conducted by the Nazi party in . jSertnany and coupled with 
their pagan antagonism toward Christianity in other lands is 
certainly not an act of statesmanship; because Christianity, 
however little of it remains in the world, is the only force that 
can and would stand in the way of the rampant savagery 
which pagan super-nationalism would let loose in another 
world war and from which the Germans would suffer like 
the other belligerents. The universal history of Christianity is 
not alone in supporting this conclusion. German national his- 
tory itself contains an additional support when it reveals that 
side by side with the earth-bound "totalitarianism" there has 
always resided in the German mind the longing for the infi- 
nite, even though this longing is at times submerged by 
"totalitarianism." 



404 THE GERMAN MIND 

SOME MANIFESTATIONS OF GERMAN "INFINITISM" 

There is truth in Napoleon's saying that force is never laugh- 
able. This applies to the Hitlerian Third Reich, even though 
the Nazi totalitarian controls of the life of the German nation 
furnish more than one example of the most bizarre exaggera- 
tion. For example, Julius Streicher's declaration of war on 
the alien "saffron-head old sweetheart, the lemon," and his 
demand that it should cede place to the native rhubarb, clam- 
ored: "Only the products of our native soil can be used to create 
German blood. Through them alone can delicate spiritual 
aspirations be communicated to the blood, and through it to 
the body and soul. . . . Our lemons then shall be atoned with 
German rhubarb." x On the whole, totalitarian controls bring, 
at least temporarily, strength to a totalitarian nation, and also 
increase the element of international danger implied in such 
super-nationalism, when it is espoused by a nation of Ger- 
many's geographical position, numerical strength, and indus- 
trial and military genius. 

The opposition of the outside world to such totalitarian 
super-nationalism will perhaps only fan it up to new heights 
of fervor and fury. The really effective check, however re- 
mote, of the Third Reich's "totalitarianism," is provided by 
the dualism of the German mind itself; by the presence in it 
side by side with mundane '"totalitarianism," of the other- 
worldly longing for the infinite. The Ni&elungenlied, which 
gives Siegfried, the scion of Wotan, Christian burial, and the 
second Faust, in which the paganized doctor's soul is redeemed 
by angels, have truthfully reflected a profound feature of the 
German national psychology and a fundamental fact in the 

1 Boston Evening Transcript, August 6, 1935. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 405 

history of the Germans. On the other hand, it may happen 
that the effective check in question will act too late to save 
Germany's neighbors at least. 

The Germans appeared on the stage of western civilization 
as hordes animated with totalitarian impetus, and as bands of 
warriors overrunning the world, particularly the Roman Em- 
pire, during the fourth and fifth centuries, in a devastating 
onslaught. That tremendous Drang nach Westen was the irre- 
sistible drive for the conquest of the west down to the Pillars 
of Hercules and the garden of the Hesperides, located by 
mythology in the present-day Spain. Their native Sehnsucht 
for the infinite made them, however, accessible to the gospel 
of Christ; in the sixth to the ninth centuries "infinitism" pre- 
vailed among the Germans. They gave many splendid mani- 
festations of Christian otherworldliness; they were then quies- 
cent, politically and militarily that is, in comparison with the 
previous and subsequent epochs when their "totalitarianism" 
vehemently superseded their universalism and otherworldliness 
born of the longing for the infinite. 

The tenth to the thirteenth centuries witnessed a recrudes- 
cence of "totalitarianism" at the expense of "infinitism"; these 
centuries were characterized in German history by the Drang 
nach Siidcn and the Drang nach Qsten, the drives for the con- 
quest of the south, particularly of Italy, and of the present-day 
German east, then western Slavonic lands on the Baltic Sea 
and west of the Vistula. The First Realm (das erste Reich), or 
the Holy Roman Empire of the Germanic Nation of Otto I 
through Konrad IV Hohenstaufen (962-1254), arose, flour- 
ished, and declined during this second totalitarian epoch of 
German History. 1 Next, "infinitism" again came into ascend- 

1 Its culminating point, "the wild ferment," as H. S. Chamberlain described 
it, is sometimes placed between 1200 and 1250. Cf. Chamberlain, H. S., The 



NM-27 



406 THE GERMAN MIND 

ancy among the Germans; the second epoch characterized by 
its rise, flourishing, and decline extended through the four- 
teenth to the seventeenth centuries. It is to the end of this 
second epoch of "infinitism" that the political characterization 
of the Germans made by Sir William Hamilton in his Discus- 
sions and quoted by Madame de Stael applies most fittingly: 

". . . The Germans have shown always the weakest 
sentiment of nationality. Descended from the same an- 
cestors, speaking a common language, unconquered by a 
foreign enemy, and once the subjects of a general govern- 
ment, they are the only people in Europe who have pas- 
sively allowed their national unity to be broken down, and 
submitted like cattle, to be parceled and reparceled into 
flocks, as suited to the convenience of their shepherds. . . . 
The Germans of our days were not a nation. . . . The 
Germans of our days did not have what is called char- 



acter." 1 



The zenith of the second epoch of "infinitism" was reached 
in the sixteenth-seventeenth century in the sacrifices borne by 
the Germans in the religious wars of the period. 2 Those 

Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, cit. t Vol. I, p. Ixv: "The awakening 
of the Teutonic peoples to the consciousness of the all-important vocation as 
the founders of a complete new civilization and culture forms this turning 
point; the year 1200 can be designated the central moment of this awaken- 
ing. Vol. II, p. 4: "I felt, however, that this wild ferment continued lone 
after the year 1200." 6 



iMme. the Baroness de Stael-Holstein, Germany, Boston, Houghton Mifflin 
Co., 1887, Vol. I, p. 33. 

2 Cf. the following analysis of the Protestant Reformation as a Christian 
Renaiss^ce found in Hippolyte Taine's History of English Literature, Vol. 
I ? \ I ^ag^e if you may the effect which the shameless paganism 
of the Italian Renaissance had upon such a mind, so loyal, so Christian The 
beauty of art, the charm of a refined and sensuous existence, had taken no 
hold upon him [Luther]; he judged morals, morals alone, and he judged 
them with his conscience only. He regarded this southern civilization with 
the eyes of a man from the north, and understood its vices only. Like other 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 407 

events were characteristically a revolt of the soul, and an ex- 
pression of the desire for peace of conscience in distinction 
from the contemporary and subsequent political movements 
in other countries, which were, like the French Revolution, 
revolts of logic and of the stomach, motivated by the desire 
for economic and political comfort. The German conflicts of 
faith, at times armed conflicts between the Protestants and the 
Catholics, were an unmistakable, though sad, expression of 
boundless devotion to the infinite, of ardent longing for the 
eternal religious truth and its triumph. The end of this epoch 
witnessed the life and work of Leibnitz (d. 1716), the great 
philosopher of "infinitism." 

The political and military weakness of Germany concomi- 
tant to the ascendancy of "infinitism" was apparently com- 
pensated, in so far as the higher interests of the German people 
were concerned, by the philosophical, artistic, and scientific 
prestige of Germany in the world at large, which doubtless 
facilitated the subsequent political, economic, and military rise 
of Germany. To borrow again from Madame de Stael: 

"This division of Germany, fatal to her political force, 
was nevertheless very favorable to all the efforts of genius 
and imagination. In matters of literary and metaphysical 
opinion, there was a sort of gentle anarchy, which allowed 
to every man the complete development of his own indi- 
vidual manner of perception." x 

The absence of political and military aggressiveness, in fact the 
passivity and the submissiveness of the Germans even in the 

Germanic visitors to Italy of that time, he was horrified at this voluptuous 
life, void of moral principles, given up to passion, caring for the present, des- 
titute of belief in the infinite, with no other worship than that of visible 
beauty, no other object than the search after pleasure." 
1 Op. cit., Vol. I, p. 32. 



408 THE GERMAN MIND 

face of the diplomatic and military high-handedness of Riche- 
lieu and Louis XIV, marked the end of the second epoch of 
"infinitism." 

Then from the middle of the eighteenth century "totalita- 
rianism" begins its second revival and its third epoch, under 
the leadership of Prussia. This new totalitarian movement of 
German impetus in worldly matters was, to be sure, goaded 
and therefore helped by the imperialism of Richelieu, Louis 
XIV, and Napoleon. Frederick the Great, the forerunner of 
the Second Bismarckian Reich, emulated Richelieu and Louis 
XIV and their generals, and attempted through a confedera- 
tion the national reunification of at least a part of the Ger- 
mans scattered among innumerable principalities. Bismarck, 
the founder of the Second Realm (das zwdte Reich}, 1871- 
1918, emulated Richelieu, Louis XIV, and also Napoleon I. 
At least in his own mind and in that of many of his fellow- 
countrymen, he was the avenger of the humiliations inflicted 
on the Germans by past French imperialistic policies. The 
Hitlerian Third Realm is perhaps the culminating period of 
the second revival or third epoch of "totalitarianism." 

At the beginning of its second political and military revival 
"totalitarianism" was assisted, both directly and indirectly, by 
romanticist poets and philosophers, men like Klopstock, Arndt, 
Schenkendorff, Fichte, Hegel; but all of them were more 
moderate than the neo-romantic leading Nazi poets and phi- 
losophers. Hegel, though a protagonist of the totalitarian State 
and a believer in the Germans as the chosen race, based his 
claim to the international superiority of the Germans on their 
"pure interiority," which, he stressed, lent them the greatest 
affinity to the Christian spirit. 1 The "totalitarianism" of the 

iCf. Brehier, K, Histoire de philosophic, Paris, Felix Alcan, 1926-32, t. 
2 (3)9 P- 77& 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 409 

Storm-and-Stress period was, furthermore, counteracted by the 
"infinitism" and universalism of the greatest of the roman- 
ticists, the twin stars Goethe and Schiller. They both passed 
through a comparatively brief and mild period of Dionysian 
anti-intellectualism and totalitarian nationalism. During that 
phase of his life Goethe spoke contemptuously of the century 
of enlightenment as the ink-smearing century. Schiller simi- 
larly condemned literature. Goethe also deplored that no Ger- 
man could even buckle his shoe without having been instructed 
by foreigners; and Schiller in his ballads exulted in the 
primeval noble qualities of the German people. 

Soon, however, the two greatest of the romanticists soared 
to the poetical search of the super-national, infinite truth and 
beauty, revealed in nature and religion as well as in triumphs 
and tribulations of mankind; the cosmopolitan choice of sub- 
jects for their great creations reflects this evolution from 
"totalitarianism" to "infinitism," or at least to the classical uni- 
versalism or cosmopolitanism: for example, Don Carlos, The 
Maid of OrUms, Maria Stuart, Iphigcnie, Demetrius, Fiesco, 
Tasso. Goethe even went so far as to say that "the classical is 
health, the romantic is disease." 1 Wagner's fundamental 
theme, despite his racialistic totalitarian pagan moods, was an 
otherworldly one the salvation of the soul. 

It is needless to point out that this evolution of the greatest 
of the romanticists brought to Germany conquests by the 
Muses greater than Mars perhaps can ever achieve; Napoleon 
in an outburst of spontaneity reflected this new hold of the 
German genius on mankind when he said of Goethe: "He is 
a Man, capital M." 2 

1 "Spriiche in Prosa," Sammiliche Wer\e, Stuttgart und Tubingen, Got- 
ta'scher Verlag, 1850, B. Ill, S. 234. 

2 Valery, P., Oeuvres, Paris, Editions de la N.R.F., t. 5, p. 109. 



4*6 THE GERMAN MINt) 

Like the poets of genius, the outstanding German philoso- 
phers and scholars of that milder period of the still continuing 
third epoch of "totalitarianism," whose zenith we are now 
witnessing probably, felt or clearly understood a simple but 
far-reaching truth which seems to escape the attention of the 
Nazi leaders, overcome as they are by their own totalitarian 
impetus. That simple truth is this: The nation which can 
muster high achievements inspired by disinterested search for 
eternal truths, and which can show genuine sympathetic un- 
derstanding of various other nations and races, has the highest 
chance for international leadership, not only spiritual but also 
economic and political leadership. Consider the cosmopolitan 
interests of German scholars, who have produced some of the 
best existing studies on men of genius in other lands, also great 
dictionaries, guides, and glossaries on the philosophy and re- 
ligions of other nations and races. Consider also the spirit 
which animated the work of German universities and which 
was aptly described by Professor Eduard Spranger as fol- 
lows: 

"The German university of the nineteenth century is the 
child of the epoch characterized by the luxuriant blending 
of philosophic idealism, political liberalism, aesthetic hu- 
manism, and historic consciousness. The being of the uni- 
versity was rooted in the conviction that true science is 
personal productive grip on eternal ideas and that by 
reason and means of an incorruptible promotion of the 
spirit, science is justified and obliged to shape itself au- 
tonomously, in accordance with its fundamental char- 
acteristics." 1 

1 "Das Wesen der deutschen Universitat," in Das atydemische Deutschland, 
Berlin, C A. Weller Verlag, 1930, B. Ill ("Die deutschen Hochschulen in 
ihrer Beziehungen zur Gegenwartskultur"), S. 3. 



A DIONYSIAN NATION 4! I 

While there prevailed such a philosophy of higher education 
and scientific research, inspired in the last analysis with the 
devotion to the infinite, German philosophers, artists, and 
scholars filled the world with admiration and respect for the 
German nation. At times, foreigners were amused because 
they did not understand that the apparently abstruse cobwebs 
of thought, spun by German philosophers, and the endless 
stringing up of details, dug out by the scholars, were "the 
expression of an almost ruthless earnestness in the quest for 
the truth, the innermost truth, and the ultimate truth." x 

From the beginning of the nineteenth century, however, and 
until the very advent of the Nazi regime, free, fruitful Ger- 
man philosophy, science, and art were universally highly re- 
garded. To repeat, this freedom of intellect was an achieve- 
ment, often indirect, of German "infinitism." It proved to be 
an incomparable advertising agent for Germany and a pow- 
erful factor which counteracted, to the benefit of Germany, in 
neutral countries at least, the painful impression produced by 
acts of wanton military highhandedness and unnecessary bru- 
tality on the part of the Second Reich, particularly in the 
World War. 

1 Wingfield-Stratford, E., op. cit., p. 1069. 

Note: Hegel gives a very enlightening explanation of the German fondness 
for hair-splitting detail in philosophizing and scientific research: "We are 
known as deep but often obscure thinkers. The lack of clarity comes from 
our desire to grasp the innermost substance of things and their necessary 
relationship. This is the reason why in scientific research we proceed ex- 
tremely systematically. ... In general, our mind is more inward-set than 
that of any other nation. We by preference live in the innermost of thought 
and sentiment. In this calm hermitage of the spirit we occupy ourselves with 
a careful determination of principles of an action before we undertake the 
action. This is why we slowly go to an act and remain undecided at times 
when a speedy action is necessary, and despite our earnest desire to handle 
a situation efficiently, we often fall short of success. The French saying, the 
wish for the better kills die good (le meilleur tue le bien), applies to us." 
("Philosophic des Geistes," Wer\e, Siebenter Band, Berlin, 1845, Verlag von 
Dundker und Humboldt, S. 80.) 



412 THE GERMAN MIND 

The attack of the totalitarian National Socialist State upon 
the free play of the German "infinitism" in religion, phi- 
losophy, science, and art will in all probability turn out to be 
self-defeating in the end. It will probably be proved once 
more that spirit breathes where it wishes or it does not breathe. 
The building of all their policies, national and international, 
on the principle that, in the words of Herr F. Sieburg, "there 
are to be no more mere human beings in Germany, but only 
Germans," 1 is likely to be condemned by the frustration of 
some vital national interests of Germany herself. The day will 
probably come when German "infinitism" will reassert itself 
and reveal itself again an indomitable and indestructible 
human force. Then a new epoch of German history will 
begin. 

1 Sieburg, F., op. cit. t p. 13. 



Chafier VII 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 



"INFINITISM" IN THE SERVICE OF 
"TOTALITARIANISM" 

AT all times of German history there were, of course, Ger- 
mans motivated primarily by otherworldly "infinitism" and 
Germans motivated primarily by earthly "totalitarianism"; the 
fundamental dualism of the German mind functions at all 
times. So it may be said that epochs of the German, history 
receive their coloring from and are characterized by "totalitar- 
ianism" or "infinitism," respectively, because of the predomi- 
nance of the one or the other motivating force in the majority 
of Germans during a given epoch. "Infinitism," however, is 
not eliminated during a totalitarian epoch and vice versa, but 
the weaker of the two forces is placed in the service of the 
predominant one. In other words, during an epoch charac- 
terized by "totalitarianism," "infinitism" is harnessed, by way 
of more or less ingenious sublimations, to the service of 
"totalitarianism," and conversely. This is the fundamental 
fact that must be borne in mind for the comprehension of the 
basic alternation of "totalitarianism" and "infinitism" in Ger- 
man history. 

That alternation shows the tendency to run counter to the 
general trend, at .a given time, in the history of the western 
world. As a result, the Germans have exercised more than 

413 



414 THE GERMAN MIND 

once in the past an epoch-making leadership in the western 
world; or at least the Germans more than once have set the 
pace in the western world even though they themselves, obey- 
ing the law of German historical contrasts or inner historical 
"dialectics" of their national mind, would next turn about and 
begin to move and set the pace in the opposite direction. 
Thus, for instance, during the ninth to the thirteenth centuries 
the Germans were motivated primarily by "totalitarianism" 
and were building the First Reich, or the Holy Roman Em- 
pire of the Germanic Nation, a kingdom very much of this 
world, into which the major part of central and southern Eu- 
rope was to be absorbed; at that time the rest of Europe was 
very largely permeated by medieval otherworldliness. Next, 
by the time the other countries of western Europe, in particular 
France and England, their worldly saps fermenting under the 
influence of the paganistic Renaissance, were embarking in 
their turn on what may be called intra-European imperialism, 
the Germans were turning their hearts away from the Renais- 
sance paganism, materialism, and imperialism; they were mov- 
ing back toward the medieval otherworldliness. In due course, 
they were in the throes of the Protestant Reformation and the 
religious wars which were exploited by their neighbors for 
worldly ends political imperialistic purposes. 

At present, when the western world and the major part of 
the eastern are motivated primarily by materialistic hedonistic 
individualism, whether naked and bold or camouflaged and 
sly, and when materialism, with or without disguise, is the 
predominant motivating power which shapes the historical 
process in other lands, Germany is animated with a kind of 
heroic, puritanic enthusiasm, however misguided. Such ap- 
pears to be one of the significant surprises generated by the 



THROUGH IMPETUS 415 

German dualism of "totalitarianism" and "infinitism," viewed 
in the historical perspective. 

Now let us turn our attention to the workings of that still 
more significant fact of German history the harnessing of the 
heaven-bound "infinitism" to the chariot of the earth-hungry 
"totalitarianism." This operation, which undoubtedly was per- 
formed in the past each time when a totalitarian epoch was 
approaching its climax, seems to be taking place now. The 
present totalitarian epoch, begun around the middle of the 
eighteenth century, seems to be approaching its climax in the 
Third Reich, whose avowed ambition is to surpass in power 
and glory the First Reich or the Holy Roman Empire of the 
Germanic Nation, 1 to say nothing of the Second or Bis- 
marckian Reich. It is this particular fundamental feature of 
the history of the Germans that holds the major secret of that 
almost mysterious recent event the rise of the National So- 
cialist Third Reich. 

To repeat, the totalitarian National Socialist regime has hurt, 
through its political extremism, both domestic and interna- 
tional, the international economic interests of Germany; it has 
arrested, at least temporarily, the country's return to the pre- 
war economic expansion and prosperity. This the National 
Socialist regime has done with astonishingly little harm to 
itself in so far as its strength at home and Germany's position 
as a world power are concerned. In fact, if anything, the 
latter has profited, at least for the time being, from the Nazi 
impetus. National Socialist Germany has succeeded in defying 
the former Allied and Associated powers in a manner un- 
dreamt of by the preceding postwar administrations. There 

1 Cf. Brown, H., "Drang nach Often" The Nineteenth Century and After, 
March, 1935, pp. 291-305. 



416 THE GERMAN MIND 

was practically no exaggeration in the proud statement made 
by the Fiihrer at the National Socialist annual convention in 
September, 1936, to the effect that "today the Reich is more 
firmly founded in its political leadership and military security 
than ever before." x This success cannot wholly be explained 
by the weakness of the other Great Powers of Europe; it is, 
rather, the "quotation" which the actual strength of Germany 
is receiving on the international diplomatic stock exchange 
that most realistic research laboratory concerning the tangible 
and intangible elements of strength and weakness of nations. 
The present actual strength which Germany possesses, in spite 
of her economic difficulties, owes, in turn, much to the placing 
of "infinitism" in the service of "totalitarianism." 

The predictions already mentioned of rapid disintegration 
of the National Socialist regime through economic difficulties 
have been belied by actual developments precisely because of 
the skillful exploitation of the element of "infinitism," or other- 
worldliness of the German mind by the present-day earth- 
bound totalitarian regime. To be sure, in his worldly hours 
the average German workman and the average middle-class 
man are irked by the regulations relative to the economy of 
fats, to the one-course dinner, and to the general low level of 
wages and income. In such hours the bourgeois grumble be- 
fore reliable foreigners at the absurdities of the regime; and the 
workmen complain, "The Fiihrer has given us bread and na- 
tional pride we want pork, too." Such confidences and com- 
plaints justify the skepticism expressed by some foreign ob- 
servers, who say they do not understand how it happens that 
while the referendum statistics always show ninety per cent of 
the population solidly supporting the regime, and only ten per 

1 Wireless to the New York Times from Nuremberg, September 9, 1936. 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 417 

cent opposed to it, wherever they turned they saw just those 
ten per cent and never a trace of the ninety. 

Yet, in moments of significant manifestations of the national 
will, which endorse, if not prepare, the far-reaching decisions 
of the National Socialist Government, the otherworldly indiffer- 
ence to worldly comforts prevails. It has prevailed in the Ger- 
man woman's acquiescence in the return from the Weimar * 
equality and the liberties, educational and occupational as well 
as political, to the traditional Kinder-und-Kucke place of the 
woman the third "K," the Kirche, having been dropped by 
the Nazi regime. Hitler has never concealed, from the very 
beginning of his drive for power, his intention to restore the 
old Germanic hierarchy of the sexes, which meant, of course, 
the subordination of woman to man, best illustrated since by 
the National Socialist ordinances relative to the restrictions in 
admitting girls to higher institutions of learning. In spite of 
such antifeminine National Socialist policies, German women 
played an important role in voting the Nazi into power and 
in the subsequent consolidation of the regime. 

The surrender of political and material comforts to the 
totalitarian State on tie part of the majority of the German 
public of both sexes is indeed a series of quite free gifts, frei- 
wlligen Abgaben; these are explicable by the fact not only that 
the majority of the Germans are now in the totalitarian mood, 
but also that the element of "infinitism" in them is skillfully 
harnessed to the promotion of totalitarian ends. A certain 
percentage of Germans, like the indomitable Christian leaders, 
are motivated primarily by "infinitism" even amidst the exul- 
tations of the present-day ascendancy of "totalitarianism." 
They refuse to compromise on their devotion to the Infinite. 
Similarly, a few untamable individualists and lovers of free- 

* For the explanation of the term see pp. 374, 419- 



4*8 THE GERMAN MIND 

dom will not be reconciled to the totalitarian regime either 
by bread, however plentiful, or by circuses, however thrilling. 
Such Germans are, however, in the minority and will remain 
in the minority until the next, or third, revival of "infinitism" 
when the next epoch of "infinitism" will have gathered mo- 
mentum. 

Viewed in the light of the historical alternation, or the inner 
historical German "dialectics" of "totalitarianism" and "infin- 
itism," the advent of the National Socialists, the most totali- 
tarian German rulers known to modern times, is not astonish- 
ing at all. It is simply the culminating drive toward the 
totalitarian goals, begun by Frederick the Great and the states- 
men of the War of Liberation; i.e. f the war against the for- 
eign-Napoleonic-imperialistic dictatorship. This drive and its 
goals were taken up and clarified by Bismarck, but later were 
bungled by William II and his advisers in the diplomatic and 
military errors of the period 1890-1918. All these previous 
modern totalitarian drives occurred under the leadership of the 
military aristocracy, very largely Prussian. The popular masses 
played for the most part the sad role of cannon fodder; there- 
fore the drives did not attain to full strength. Ludendorff per- 
haps realized this when in the midst of the World War, which 
he expected to end in a German victory, he thought of the 
next and, he hoped, the last war that would make Germany the 
mistress of the world. The National Socialists, helped by the 
totalitarian spirit of the epoch, have persuaded the popular 
masses to adopt this supreme totalitarian goal which they in- 
herited from their totalitarian predecessors in supreme power. 
Now they hope to achieve that goal through a mighty impetus 
of the nation, "unified biologically and psychologically" and 
devoting to the ultimate totalitarian purpose its total mental 
and physical resources. In the pithy words of Herr Moeller 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 419 

van der Bruck, National Socialism is "the fighter for the final 
empire (Strdter fur das Endreich)." * 

What is the causal connection, then, between the advent of 
the Third Reich and the period immediately preceding? 
This period of German history, which may be called the 
Weimar, or Geneva, period (1919-1933), was characterized in 
domestic affairs by the adoption of the republican Weimar 
Constitution August n, 1919, and by a confusion in parlia- 
mentary politics h la franfaise. This period was marked, in 
diplomatic affairs, by the not unsuccessful flirtations with the 
League of Nations, in which Dr. Stresemann bagged for Ger- 
many a quite advanced evacuation of the Rhine Zone by the 
Allies, in exchange for what proved since just another scrap 
of paper, known as the Treaty of Locarno. This decade and 
one half was an incubation period for the next totalitarian 
drive, now conducted under the National Socialist leader- 
ship. 

The political confusion during the Weimar period was 
caused partly by exhaustion from the World War, but also by 
the fact that the relay of standard bearers for a new totalitarian 
drive was taking place. The middle and the lower middle 
class were being girded to replace the military aristocracy in 
the new world Marathon for the imperium rnundi; the totali- 
tarian epoch begun with Frederick the Great entered into the 
climax phase. A lower middle-class fellow by the name of 
Adolf Hitler, appropriately endowed for the task, was to take 
the place at the helm vacated by the abdication of the Kaiser 
and the princes as a consequence of the loss of the war. The 
Germany of the Weimar Constitution and Geneva cooings of 
the dove of peace was, indeed, but a protective screen behind 
which the true Germany of the present epoch, the Germany 

1 op. cit. f S. 320. 



420 THE GERMAN MIND 

of Potsdam,* was taking a breathing spell, relaying its standard 
bearers, and preparing to make the next totalitarian drive; the 
one that we are witnessing, which is more truly totalitarian, 
because it comprises not the upper class alone, but the "total 
nation." This interregnum from 1919 to 1933, during which 
time a rapid political incubation of the middle and lower 
middle class and the harnessing of "infinitism" to the chariot 
of "totalitarianism" took place, has such historical significance 
and psychological interest as to justify a brief review of the 
principal electoral events in Germany from the November 
Revolution of 1918 until the assumption of power by the Na- 
tional Socialists in 1933. 

As it is true in the case of any social revolution, the German 
November Revolution of 1918 (der neunte November) oc- 
curred because of the coincidence of the three factors whose 
combination has always produced, and in all probability will 
always produce, a social revolution. Those factors are dissatis- 
faction from below, dissatisfaction from above, and a signifi- 
cant national crisis in which these two currents of dissatisfac- 
tion meet. 

As the war progressed, dissatisfaction from below, which is 
always present in some degree in every country, grew in Ger- 
many to alarming dimensions. As a result of ever-increasing 
economic distress consequent upon the blockade, the majority 
of the townspeople in Germany had already in the winter of 

*It will be recalled that the Nazi Government chose for its inaugural 
meeting "for laying the cornerstone of the New Reich" (jeicrlicher Staat- 
saty der Begrundung des neuen Reiches) March 21, 1933, the Garrison 
church (Garnisontyrche) at Potsdam, in which Frederick the Great was 
buried. Potsdam, a suburb of Berlin, long associated with the Hohenzollern 
monarchy, the preferred residence of Prussian kings and the home town of 
several distinguished Prussian regiments, is defined in Knaurs's Konversa- 
tions-Lexifyn (1936) as follows: "Symbolic designation of the spirit of 
Prussianism, which has particularly manifested itself in the person of Fred- 
erick the Great." 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 421 

1915-1916 entered upon an era of famine, the symbols of which 
were turnips and bread lines. To borrow from Professor 
Arthur Rosenberg's The Birth of the German Republic: 

"Notwithstanding the increase in wages, especially in 
those of the munition workers, the large majority of wage- 
earners was unable to purchase enough to eat. . . . The 
fight for food made its appearance in the army where, 
under ordinary conditions, no one regarded it as anything 
but natural that officers should be better fed than privates, 
and should have their separate mess. When, however, 
famine made its appearance, and began to affect the ra- 
tions of the men in the ranks, angry and envious glances 
were cast towards the officers' mess." * 

The embittered masses of civilians and soldiers made the 
Emperor responsible for the famine, misery, and massacre of 
the war; hence dissatisfaction from below. Moreover, the 
physical and moral crisis growing out of the interminable strife 
fortified the dissatisfaction from below by dissatisfaction from 
above. An appreciable section of the nobility, the manufac- 
turers, and the military lost confidence in the Emperor, who 
had practically delegated his authority to the General Head- 
quarters. One of the most striking illustrations of the situa- 
tion which made many good people in Germany feel that the 
Emperor had deserted them, was the appointment of Dr. 
Michaelis as Imperial Chancellor in July, 1917, when Chan- 
cellor Bethmann-Hollweg was dismissed because Hindenburg 
and Ludendorff thought they could not work with him. The 
Emperor was forced to appoint Dr. Michaelis, the Prussian 
Food Controller, whose principal qualification for the office 

1 Rosenberg, A., 'The Birth of the German Republic, New York, Oxford 
University Press, 1931, p. 91. 



422 THE GERMAN MIND 

was his deference to Ludendorff . Many good people in Ger- 
many were shocked to see that the civil government of Ger- 
many should be entrusted at a critical hour to an utter medi- 
ocrity. 

Thus the dissatisfaction from below was reinforced by the 
dissatisfaction from above. Both being abundantly nourished 
by the crisis created by the war, there resulted in Germany, as 
a year before in Russia, a revolution. The German nobility, of 
course, was not republican, but it became disaffected enough 
and had been bled enough to be unable to resist the revolution 
toward which the dissatisfaction from below was pushing the 
country. 

The political bankruptcy of the weakened nobility, defeated 
in the war, left government to the Socialists, who were the only 
strong and organized political group, ambitious and somewhat 
prepared through traditional opposition, to take up power. 
The mass of the middle class of Germany, while it had been 
rapidly advancing both economically and culturally since the 
middle of the eighteenth century, remained politically back- 
ward and unambitious, because of the peculiarities, previously 
discussed, of the German national psychology. The revolution 
found the middle class, to say nothing of the lower middle 
class, untrained in political activities and completely bewil- 
dered by the events. As a result, while the proletariat and the 
revolutionary element of the intelligentsia were solidly enough 
massed in the election of the Constituent Assembly in January, 
1919, around the Socialist ticket, the bulk of the German popu- 
lationthe middle class and the lower middle class scattered 
their votes among half a dozen parties. 

The entire decade 1919-1929 in the political history of Ger- 
many may be properly considered as the incubation period 
preparatory to the bid for power on the part of the younger 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 423 

element of the middle and the lower middle classes. The 
future historian of Germany may well find that the incubation 
was accelerated by the excessive heat furnished partly by the 
misery of the classes in question, who were ruined by the war, 
inflation, and the costly measures of social relief enacted under 
the socialistic pressure; partly by the proximity of the Russian 
bolshevism; and partly by the dynamism of Hitler and his 
close associates. It may be mentioned parenthetically that 
bolshevism or communism had in Germany a much more 
ominous clang than in other countries separated from Soviet 
Russia by greater distances. The middle class of Germany 
knew only too well the bitter fate of the Russian middle class 
at the hands of the Bolshevists. It was alarmed at the growth 
in Germany of communistic activities, open and covert, which 
were countenanced for reasons of varying respectability and 
purity of intention by the cabinets in which the Social Demo- 
crats were the majority party. 

The day of the general election in 1930 was undoubtedly a 
turning point in the political history of Germany. Three 
things about this election, September 14, will arrest the atten- 
tion of historians. In the first place, the total number of depu- 
tieswhich was 544 in the election of 1928, one representative 
being allotted under the Weimar Constitution to every 60,000 
votes cast rose to 577 in the election of September, 1930. 
Now 82 per cent of die electorate expressed their political pref- 
erences; and the swelling of the polk was due very largely to 
the increased vote of the middle and the lower middle classes, 
who formerly were truant voters. The second interesting as- 
pect of the election of September 14, 1930, was the spectacular 
rise in the number of Nazi representatives, which increased 
from 12 to 107. The third important feature was a further 
considerable increase of the Communist representation in the 



424 THE GERMAN MIND 

Reichstag. Having started with 22 deputies in the election 
of January, 1919, the Communists polled in 1924, 45 seats; in 
1928, 54; and in September, 1930, they won 77 and the posi- 
tion of the fourth numerically strong party in the Reichstag. 
All the rest of the parties, with the exception of the Centre 
(Catholic) which gained 9 seats, lost more or less heavily. 

The new Reichstag was destined to be a short-lived one. 
The ever-increasing pressure for power on the part of the 
Hitler group contributed so much to a further confusion of 
the general political atmosphere in Germany and the insta- 
bility of the Government that a new general election became 
unavoidable and took place in July, 1932. In this new election, 
the total number of deputies rose to 607 as against 577 in the 
election of September 14, 1930. The polls were further swollen 
by the middle class, which was now heavily massed under the 
electoral banner of Hitler. The Nazi obtained 230 seats, an 
increase of 123, and thus became the strongest single party in 
the Reichstag. The Communists obtained 88 seats, an increase 
of ii ; the Centre, 96, an increase of 9. The other parties sus- 
tained losses, especially the parties which in the past elections 
were nourished by the scattered middle-class vote. 

Next, the incubation period found its completion in the 
election of March, 1933, in which 90 per cent of the electorate 
voted and in which the Nazis obtained 288 seats. After ally- 
ing themselves with the German Nationalists, who returned 
52 deputies, they secured a majority in the Reichstag to be 
exact, 340 seats out of the total of 647 and became the Gov- 
ernment of Germany. 

Certainly, the postwar "dejection-psychosis" (Verzweij- 
lungspsychose), the black outlook made of the admixture of 
international humiliation, economic difficulties, and disgust 
with the communistic and nihilistic licentiousness in speech 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 425 

and conduct, played its role in the rise of National Socialism; 
but that role was rather one of fanning up flame with wind 
than of lighting a new fire. The fire was there the "totali- 
tarianism" of the epoch. Its leaping up to a Plutonian volume 
and height architectonic as the National Socialists believe, or 
destructive as many people not unfriendly to Germany fear- 
was merely a question of time. Contrary to the assertion made 
in the biography of Hitler by Herr Konrad Heiden, the rise 
of the Fiihrer was not the simple case of "an alliance formed 
by a foundered man and a foundered nation " 1 

Herr Heiden's diagnosis is not any more realistic than is 
Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front as 
the true expression of the mind of the majority of the com- 
batants. Remarque's heroes represented the minority, those 
combatants, and also soldiers of the rear, who, though spared 
by shells, returned home with badly shattered nerves. The 
sentiment of the majority of combatants was much more truth- 
fully reflected in the works of Ernest Jiinger, 2 Like Remarque, 
a participant in the World War, he drew his inspiration from 
the companionship of men who, though hit by shells, retained 
their nervous vigor and came home filled with the proud re- 
membrance that their drive for the world empire had several 
times come close to success; that the German legions had held 
two capital cities of their opponents, Brussels and Bucharest, 
and had horrified Paris, had made Petrograd uneasy, and 
London uncomfortable. This true spirit of Germany, daunt- 
less even though defeated, found its true expression in the 

1 Heiden, K., Hitler: A Biography, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1936, p. 
318. 

2 Jiinger, E., Das Antlitz des Welttyeges, Berlin, Neufeld & Henius, 1930; 
Blatter und Steine, Hamburg, Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt, 1934; Der Kampf 
als inneres Erleben, Berlin, Mittler & Sohn, 1932; In Stahlgewittern, Berlin, 
Mittler & Sohn, 1922; Krieg und Krieger, Heransgegeben von Ernst Junger, 
Berlin, Junker und Diinnhaupt, 1930. 



426 THE GERMAN MIND 

inscription on the monument erected soon after the war in the 
courtyard of the University of Berlin to the students, alumni, 
and teachers who fell in the World War: "Invictis Vkti Vic- 



turi."\ 



In his speech-making during the incubation period Hitler 
denounced the "colossal injustice of the Allies to Germany." 
He dwelt upon the hardships of the blockade even long after 
it had been terminated. He lamented before the receptive 
ear of the landowners their indebtedness; before the peasants, 
the tax burden; and before the workers, the misery of unem- 
ployment. To all he promised, though vaguely and discreetly 
enough, a just relief. He insisted upon the danger, real 
enough, of Marxism. He looked, however, far beyond all these 
evils and remedies; and as the incubation period was progress- 
ing, he spoke ever more frequently of the ultimate totalitarian 
objective of the National Socialist regime, the objective which 
he had clearly outlined in M dn Kampf. The German Empire 
must not only gather up within its folds all the Germans, but 
must lead the nation to a dominating position. Germany 
"must not tolerate the rise of another great military power on 
the Continent of Europe," Such is, in the main, the Fiihrer's 
"political testament by which the German nation must be per- 
manently guided in its international policies." 2 

In other words, the Irredentist watchword, "The same 
blood belongs in this same commonwealth," 8 is a mere intro- 
duction to the mighty totalitarian drive, the ultimate purpose 
of which is the Endreich, the German world empire. In this 
drive, the legitimate needs of Germany for territorial and eco- 

1 To the undefeated, the defeated victors pf the future. 
2 Mein Kampf, Verlag Franz Eher Nachfolger (Edition 1930), SS. 439, 
754- 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 427 

nomic expansion are exaggerated by the totalitarian impetus. 
Now that Germany is again on the mighty ascendant, the 
complaints over the blind injustice of history which resounded 
in the denunciations of the Treaty of Versailles are replaced 
with proud mystical assertions like the following: 

"Now as ever the father and king of all things is the 
moral truth. Only through the racial content of this 
master-law is, in substance, higher life possible. What 
yesterday was regarded as a heresy is recognized today as 
a law, because it has proved its right to live. . . . The 
force, freshness, and youthfulness of a movement are not 
compatible with sentimentality. All mental criteria are 
false when applied to the life of a people, because they are 
really invalid and make the people unfit for life. He 
has right who wields it (Recht hat wer Recht behittt). 
History is always right. 'The history of the world is the 
world tribunal.' " * 

Many signs seem to concur in showing that the Fiihrer is 
wholeheartedly supported by the vast majority of the people, 
particularly with regard to the Endrcich part of his program. 
At all events, a future not far distant will definitely reveal 
what is the true nature of the National Socialist foreign policy. 
Is it simply the work of a leader who succeeded in tricking a 
nation, depressed with political and economic miseries, into 
investing him with supreme power, to hold which he has to 
excite the people further with grandiose visions of imperialism, 
in lieu of more tangible and lasting achievements? Or is it, 
as seems more probable, a surge of the people who, in the 
course of the historical alternation between "totalitarianism" 

iWeltzicn, E., "'Saint Joan' als nationalpolitischer Bildungsstoft" Die 
neueren Sprachen, 1934, Heft 4, S. 154. 



428 THE GERMAN MIND 

and "infinitism," has reached the point where the masses have 
become imbued with the impetus for territorial expansion, 
power, and glory the impetus characteristic of the current 
epoch of their national history but, until recently, experienced 
and expressed only by the upper classes? Is not, indeed, Hit- 
ler's success that of a man who picked up a political oppor- 
tunity that was around the corner but could not be picked up 
except by someone risen from the ranks, someone ambitious, 
peculiarly gifted, and generally eligible to be accepted by the 
totalitarian popular masses as genuinely one of themselves and 
yet their natural superior morally and intellectually, "the living 
unknown soldier" worthy to be invested with the supreme 
command ? 

The ultimate wisdom of his leadership and the ultimate 
wisdom of popular devotion to him, as well as that of the 
totalitarian drive itself, will be judged by the future historian. 
In the meantime the National Socialist regime employs for the 
purpose of mobilizing the national forces in the service of its 
totalitarian objectives the old means which German leaders 
always employed during the climax of a totalitarian epoch. 
This method, designed to achieve national singleness of pur- 
pose, consists in removing at least temporarily, the funda- 
mental dualism and discord of the German mind by marrying 
"infinitism" to "totalitarianism." 

A very striking symbol of the union between "totalitarian- 
ism" and "infinitism" is found in the new Prussian heraldic 
emblem. It is a one-headed black flying eagle with its open 
beak turned toward the right of the observer, with a silver 
swastika on its breast, and with golden talons. In the right 
claw is held a silver sword and in the left, two golden light- 
ning flashes. Above the eagle is a scroll with the inscription: 
"God with Us," 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 429 

Another not less significant reflection of the union between 
"totalitarianism" and "infinitism" in a kind of Dionysian mar- 
riage of Mars and Sibylla was a ceremony staged during the 
Olympic games in Berlin in August, 1936, and described in 
an Associated Press dispatch as follows: 

"Berlin, Aug. 13 (AP). One hundred thousand spec- 
tators, including Chancellor Adolf Hitler, witnessed a daz- 
zling military spectacle presented by the German army, 
navy, and air force tonight in the Olympic Stadium. 

"Fully 200 drummers, 1750 other band musicians and 
1400 soldiers, sailors and members of the air force goose- 
stepped smartly down the cinder path on which Olympic 
records were so recently broken. Past the Fiihrer's loge 
they marched as the jammed stadium roared its applause. 

"The ceremony and military tattoo preceded a military 
band concert in which the massed bands blared historic 
marches and the overture of Wagner's opera 'Rienzi.' 

"The great bowl then darkened and against the back- 
ground of gloom four points of light could be seen, one 
on the Nazi swastika at the east end of the stadium, two 
falling on the Fiihrer's standard and the Olympic standard 
at either end of his loge, and one on the Olympic flame 
burning at the marathon gate. 

"Then from the tunnel beneath the marathon gate 
emerged a broad stream of flame. It was a column of 
goose-stepping soldiers carrying torches. It divided into 
two streams of light flowing slowly along two sides of the 
arena. Finally, after forming a fiery pattern, it dissolved 
into a single border of flame around the whole stadium. 

"Within this frame of fire, fifes sounded weirdly and 
drums rolled. These were soon augmented by a fanfare 



43<> THE GERMAN MIND 

of trumpets from the marathon gate, which in turn was 
answered by the blare of the bands until finally the great 
bowl of the stadium was filled and dominated by the 
brazen flood of sound. 

"The spectators' enthusiasm reached its climax when, 
after the command, 'Helmets off for prayers I* the massed 
bands played the Soldier's Hymn. The ceremony closed 
with a great parade past Hitler." 

We omit from consideration the technicalities of political, 
economic, administrative, police, and judiciary measures of 
inducement and pressure used by the totalitarian State in the 
delicate process of marrying "infinitism" to "totalitarianism." 
They all converge on developing in the nation the condition 
of intoxicating impetus (Wucht, UrgcwdtigT^cit, Ungcstiim) y 
under which the totalitarian goal readily takes on the appear- 
ance of the supreme means of attaining the infinite truth, 
beauty, and goodness. The principal psychological methods 
of creating the psychological condition in question are the ap- 
peal to mysticism by way of political mysticism and the cul- 
tivation of the readiness for self-sacrifice by casting a sacred 
halo of heroism around the individual's unquestioning obedi- 
ence to the totalitarian State, which controls all the aspects of 
life political, economic, physical, and moral. 

The Nazi impetus is fraught with far-reaching surprises 
which we shall study after cataloguing some of the more char- 
acteristic devices used by the National Socialist Third Reich 
in promoting political mysticism and totalitarian heroism 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 43! 

POLITICAL MYSTICISM 1 

Such observers o German conditions as attribute an undue 
importance to the economic factor in history usually reason 
that nations, like armies, travel on their stomachs, and that the 
German stomach is National Socialism's destiny. In reality 
both armies and nations, in particular the Dionysian German 
nation, rise to the supreme effort on the wings of faith in some 
transcendent values, in fact, on the wings of mysticism, be that 
even a politicized mysticism. 

The structure of political mysticism erected by the National 
Socialists is a two-bell belfry. One of these bells sounds con- 
tinually the "miracle of Hitler" that the Fiihrer "embodies 
pure Germanism in his earthly shell," that he is the magic 
"source of the revival of the German racial spirit among all 
the classes and callings." 2 The professions of political mys- 
ticism usually made on behalf of the Fiihrer by his lieutenants 
extoll him as "a true knight without fear or fault who has 
taken the flag of mankind into his strong hands and, with his 
head raised high, is carrying it against the menace of oncoming 
hordes inflamed with the criminal Marxist lunacy of com- 
munistic world revolution"; 8 also as the prophet of the Ger- 
man destiny, the inspired Drummer of the Third Realm. 4 
The latter symbolic characterization of the Fiihrer was coined 
by himself; in the speech which he addressed March 3, 

1 For definition of political mysticism see above, Book One, Chapter I, 
"English Political Mysticism." As previously indicated, the treatment of 
Political Mysticism in this work is adapted from our Shactyed Diplomacy, 
New York, Barnes & Noble, 1934, Ch. III. 

2 Havorka, N. (Editor), Zwischenspiel Hitler, Wien-Leipzig, Reinhold- 
Verlag, 1932, S. 140. 

8 Dr. Paul Goebbels* address before the National Socialist Convention, Sep- 
tember, 1936. 

4 Zwischenspiel Hitler, cit., S. 141. 



432 THE GERMAN MIND 

1924, to the Court that tried him for high treason, Hitler 
said: 

"The vision that I have had from the very first day of 
my political activity meant to me a thousand times more 
than the office of a Minister of State. I wanted to be the 
destroyer of Marxism. I will fulfill this task and when 
I have done this, the title of a Minister of State will be a 
ridiculous title to give me. I have wanted to be a Drum- 
mer; this not because of humility but because I consider 
it the highest office in comparison with which the other 
is but a trifle." x 

To quote one of the numerous Nazi references to the mys- 
tical gifts of the Fiihrer, who indeed possesses an uncommon 
gift for popular oratory modo teutonico, we borrow the fol- 
lowing passage from an issue of the Volkisher Bcobachtcr: 

"Hitler speaks as only a few men have spoken at the 
great turning points of the history of peoples. Only men 
who have been entrusted by Providence with the highest 
mission can speak as he does. Only those to whom the 
Demon 2 has revealed the true and profound significance 
of the WORD can talk as Hitler does. And when he in- 
vokes the giants of the German past as so many gods, pro- 
tectors of the German fight which we are fighting today, it 
is nothing else but a religious supplication, an affirmation 
under the strength of oath of their unity, of which the 
Germans are conscious and in which, despite all the errors, 
blunders, and catastrophes, they have always found again 
their primeval capacity for impetus \UrgewdtigJ(fit\ 
which is today resuscitated in the ardent national passion 
called National Socialism." 

1 Zwischenspiel Hitler, cit. f S. 141. 2 Aac/toy, the Deity. 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 433 

The historical mission of the Germans in the world is an- 
other fundamental Motiv of the National Socialist political 
mysticism, or, to revert to our simile, the persistent sound of 
the other bell. 

In substance, as stated in Mein Kompft the mission is that 
of fax germanica, "peace . . . based on the victorious sword 
of a master-nation and bringing the world into the service of a 
higher culture." 2 

The Fiihrer's inspirer, H. S. Chamberlain, the prophet of 
"Nordicism," proclaimed: 

"At any rate it is only shameful indolence of thought, 
or disgraceful historical falsehood, that can fail to see in 
the entrance of the German tribes into the history of the 
world the rescuing of agonizing humanity from the 
clutches of the everlasting bestiality." s 

And Herr Moeller van der Bruck, in his peroration on the 
Endrach, declares: 

"The beast encroaches more and more on the soul of 
man. The shadow of Africa creeps on Europe. Ours to 
stand guard on the threshold of human values." 4 

, As nowhere else, perhaps, the totalitarian nature of the new 
German political mysticism is expressed with sibyllic forceful- 
ness in the following passages of Spengler's Hour of Decision, 

written on the eve of the advent of the Nazi Third Reich: 

1 
"The truth is, a new form of world has arisen, as the 

precondition for future crisis which must one day set in 



1 Cf . also Zwischenspiel Hitler, dt.fe. 150. 

2 Mein Kampf, dt. f p. 438. 

8 Chamberlain, H. S., The 'Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, New 
York, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1912, Vol. I, p. 495. 
* Op. dt., S. 322. 



434 TCB GERMAN MIND 

with crushing force* Russia has been reconquered morally 
by Asia, and it is doubtful if the British Empire any longer 
has its center of gravity in Europe. The rest of "Europe" 
lies now between Asia and America between Russia and 
Japan in the East and between North America and the 
British Dominions in the West and consists substantially 
only of Germany which is taking up her old position as a 
frontier against "Asia." Italy, which is a power as long as 
Mussolini lives and may perhaps acquire in the Mediter- 
ranean the wider base for a true world-power; and France, 
who once more considers herself lord of Europe ... are 
all possibly, or probably, evanescent phenomena. The 
transformation of the world's political forms proceeds 
apace, and no one can imagine what the maps of Asia, 
Africa, and even of America will look like a few decades 
hence. . . . 

"In any case: when the white proletariat breaks loose in 
the United States, the Negro will be on the spot, and be- 
hind him Indians and Japanese will await their hour. 
Similarly a black France would have little hesitation in 
outdoing the Parisian horrors of 1792 and 1871. And 
would die white leaders of the class war ever hesitate if 
colored outbreaks opened up a way for them ? They have 
never been fastidious in the means they use. It would 
make no difference if the voice of Moscow ceased to dic- 
tate. It has done its work, and the work goes forward of 
itself. We have waged our wars and class wars before the 
eyes of color, have humiliated and betrayed each other; 
we have even summoned it to take part in them. Would 
it be anything to wonder at if at last color were to act 
on its own account? 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 435 

"At this point history towers high over economic dis- 
tress and internal political ideals. The elemental forces 
of life are themselves entering the fight, which is for all 
or nothing. The prefiguration of Caesarism will soon be- 
come clearer, more conscious and unconcealed. The mask 
will fall completely from the age of the parliamentary 
interlude. All attempts to gather up the content of the 
future into parties will soon be forgotten. The Fascist 
formations will pass into new, unforeseeable forms, and 
even present-day nationalism will disappear. There re- 
mains as a formative power only the warlike 'Prussian' 
spirit everywhere and not in Germany alone. Destiny, 
once compacted in meaningful forms and great traditions, 
will now proceed to make history in terms of formless in- 
dividual powers. Caesar's legions are returning to con- 
sciousness. 

"Here, possibly even in our own country, the ultimate 
decisions are waiting for their man. In presence of these 
the little aims and notions of our current politics sink to 
nothing. He whose sword compels victory here will be 
the lord of the world. The dice are there ready for this 
stupendous game. Who dares to throw them?" * 

' The purest Nordic nation, that is the Germany purified in 
the Titanic rebirth called the Third Reich, is declared as ap- 
pointed to lead, by force if necessary, to the true light and 
morality all the other lands, beginning with Russia. This 
basic theme of political mysticism is presented under several 
variations, aimed to reach the Germans of various religious 

1 From Hour of Decision, by Oswald Spengler, New^York, 1934, pp. 34> 
35, 164, 165, by permission of and special arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, 
Inc., authorized publishers; Jahre der Entscheidung, cit., SS. 23, 228 ff . 



436 THE GERMAN MIND 

attitudes, the Nazi religious control having failed thus far 
to achieve the totalitarian paganization of the nation. As 
typical variations, the following may be cited. 

Under the auspices of the Ministry for Propaganda and 
Popular Enlightenment a mystery play entitled Das Spiel von 
Job dem Deutschen was produced and widely distributed. To 
borrow from President George Norlin's analysis of the play, 
it 

"draws to a close with the triumph of German arms over 
the powers of Satan. The angels sing: 'Praise be the Lord 
who loves strength in the strong. Praised be war, and 
praised be the victory of the German.' Finally, God Him- 
self speaks to Job: 'German, your line shall be the foun- 
tain of the world . . . The whole earth will I give you 
that you may lead it and rule it to my will. ... I will 
give the earth's glory to your race and from now on you 
shall be the race to receive my revelation. The holiest 
treasures of mankind shall be in your keeping.* " x 

As another variation may be mentioned the following profes- 
sion of political mysticism made by Count Ernst von Revent- 
low, in charge of the "faith movement" in the Third Reich: 

"I believe in man, the master of the earth and of all its 
powers. I believe in the German, the master of himself, 
who was conceived under the Nordic heaven, between 
the Alps and the sea, suffered at the hands of the papists 
and the servants of Mammon, was dashed into the inferno 
with the whips of calumny, and after years of misery and 
hopelessness, rose from the murk of national death to the 

^Norlin, G., Fascism and Citizenship, The University of North Carolina 
Press, 1934, pp. 17 . Cf. Loesch, K. C, von, Deutsche Zuge im Antlitz der 
Erde, Miinchen, Verlag Bruckmann. 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 437 

heaven of Eckhart, Bach, Goethe, and is now seated by 
the side of his brother from Nazareth, on the right hand 
of the Eternal One. ... I believe in the holy spirit of 
humanity and in the new church the future communion 
of all who place their duty toward their country above 
everything else." x 

It is on the thorough conversion of the German youth to 
the totalitarian ends of the Third Reich that the immediate 
future of Germany and her relations with the outside world 
depend. Therefore we quote as the last, but not least or short- 
est, variation of the basic National Socialist theme of political 
mysticism the profession of faith of a leading young Nazi 
enthusiast; it was published two years before Hitler's advent 
to power: 

"The destiny of the German is to form the first truly 
natural racial commonwealth which, acting as a guide 
and example, shall be the path to the universal Third 
Realm. 

"The inhabitant of the earth most harassed for a thou- 
sand years by his inner split, the German has also the 
deepest yearning for unity. Torn asunder by seemingly 
irreconcilable inner contradictions and built on polarities, 
the German people as no other nation struggling and 
growing in the heart of Europe during a thousand-year- 
long history is destined to be the purest epitome of the 
human species, with all the dangers and blessings of such 
a mission. He in whom the hardest thesis and the bitter- 
est antithesis have fought their thousand-year-long fight, 
is also the man that is ripe for the holy synthesis; he is 
chosen to be the first to give the final decision, whether 

1 Quoted in Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 decembre 1935, pp. 777 f. 

NM-29 



438 THE GERMAN MIND 

chaos or cosmos shall prevail. When the German people 
will have fought through to the place for which it is 
destined and will have adopted its Leader, the German 
spirit will be the intermediary, first between Russia and 
the Anglo-Saxon world and last between the North and 
the South. The German people is appointed to this task 
as the only one of the great western nations that has con- 
tinuously cultivated the oriental soul; the German people 
is free from the hatred-generating heritage of greedy 
colonizers, capitalists, and militarists. As the Orient, by 
its emanations of eternity, saved our souls from enslave- 
ment to the time boundaries which we call our lives the 
enslavement fraught with the menace of assassination of 
conscience so the West, through the medium of the Ger- 
mans, will bring back into common use its priceless gift, 
which is the creative genius, the path of creative love. . . . 
The German intermediary will through example show the 
Orient and the Occident the way to this salvation. The 
eternal German has bequeathed to the noblest German 
minds the belief in the ultimate union of mankind. He 
has been, however, again and again deceived by the un- 
ripeness of humanity, in blood and spirit, has been frus- 
trated by the inroads of alien, denaturing elements. "Re- 
ligion," falsified by the Guelph popes, forced upon the 
people and exploited by the princes, traitors to their race, 
also Roman law, the antique art, and French literature, 
in turn and order intruded on and deeply endangered the 
German soul, in like manner as alien armed forces in- 
vaded the German land, as the Slavonic, Latin, Dinaric, 
and above all Semitic blood invaded the German body. 
Yet, thanks to the unparalleled power of rejuvenation, 
the indestructible capacity for rebirth, Germany raised her- 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 439 

self to ever-higher vitality and to an ever-higher pinnacle 
from each profound humiliation, from every seemingly 
fatal fall; the nation had, through the unshakable Sieg- 
friedian faith and tenacity, melted in its inner self all 
alien elements, and had shaken them down without weak- 
ening the primeval kernel of its true substance. 

"Conscious of this blessed power of rebirth, the German 
genius, soaring high and wide despite the disappointing 
experiences with the anti-Faustian foreign lands, has never 
renounced its faith in the ultimate union of all humanity. 
Better shall we be called fools than let love flee from the 
earth. . . . 

"We build in ourselves a synthesis of the Hellenic and 
Nordic spirit, of western paganism and eastern Christian- 
ity, in order to erect the Third Realm of life, after the 
union of North and South, of East and West, has been 
effected in our souls. We are preparing ourselves for the 
world mission of the creative nation. We bring our souls 
to ripeness in order to make ourselves worthy of seeing the 
triumphant entry of the future Leader, who will bring to 
the world the first true tidings of the true peace and will 
bestow unity on mankind." x 

THE CULT OF HEROISM 

It is rightly said that all great German plays and operas are 
tragedies. French Apollonian poets, even skeptics, sing the 
joy of life and turn away from the problem o death. Charles 
of Orleans (d. 1464) happily expressed, in a rondeau, this char- 
acteristically French attitude of mind: 

1 Eschenhagen, G., Entscheidung: Be^enntnis eines jungen Deutschen, Ber- 
liti-Stiglitz, Heinrich Wilhelm Hendriock Verlag, 1931, SS. 242 ff. 



44 THE GERMAN MIND 

"Worry, Anxiety, Melancholy, 
Go away and don't return!" 

German Dionysian poets, on the contrary, seek, as it were, 
the company of these sad entities; world woe, the thought of 
death (Weltschmerz, Todesgedanfy), are their favored tunes. 
Abundant material can be drawn from German literature to 
illustrate this tragic conception of life (die tragische Auffas- 
sung des Lcbens) held by the great German literary masters, 
those most influential representatives and teachers of their 
nation. We limit ourselves to just one illustration of the kind, 
taken from Hermann Burte, the already-mentioned con- 
temporary writer, very influential in the pre-Nazi Youth Move- 
ment and favored also by the leaders of the Hitler Youth. As 
a preparation for Wiltfeber's suicide, the author makes the 
hero rave to his sweetheart, amidst transports of philosophized 
dejection, as follows: 

"You will never be able to understand me, no woman 
can: the universe has a meaning to me, and even if it has 
no purpose, it has laws. And the same law governs the 
day of consummation of one's fate and the years of one's 
life. And I must tell you what I know: I am destined for 
a martyr's wreath! Nothing is the Thing, everything is 
the content of its meaning, and woe to me, I can read it." x 

Why should the German have this tragic conception of life? 
In all probability because of the inner split between the earthly 
or totalitarian and the otherworldly or mystical tendencies of 
his mind. 
The following analysis of the German tragic view of life 

1 Wiltfeber der ewige Deutsche, cit. t S. 314. 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 44! 

written by Herr F. Sieburg is in substance true to reality, 
despite an element of exaggeration: 

"We work for work's sake, because we do not want 
happiness. The idea of fighting for one's happiness is not 
merely alien but actually repugnant to our nature. Is hap- 
piness not an unheroic state? . . . Life is hard and men 
are harder. But we Germans cling not so much to belief 
in the happiness which is in store for man as to the con- 
viction of his potential greatness. At present we are ob- 
sessed by the feeling that the reconstruction of Germany 
is the only justification of our life and work, but this 
feeling is not unmixed with residue of helplessness and 
despair. Our aspiration toward the future and our deter- 
mination to shape it are even now hampered by the 
temptation to seek refuge in the future as an escape 
from the torments and confusion of German everyday 
life." 1 

1 Germany, My Country, London, Jonathan Cape, 1935, pp. 48, 55. 

Explaining the genesis of his volume, Herr Sieburg says: "The book was 
already known to my fellow-countrymen when in March [1933] the national 
revolution broke out and, in a few weeks, transformed our country from top 
to bottom. ... In a word, the book describes not the German revolution but 
what prepared the way for it. It describes the growth of the nationalistic 
state of mind which rendered this revolution necessary. It tries to depict the 
Messianic faith with which the youth of Germany took refuge in nationalism, 
because it seemed firm land which afforded a refuge from the fierce torrent 
of time, with its materialism and its license. My aim was to portray not so 
much the German Reich and German politics as the German nation and the 
individual German. ... A French friend, who liked the book, wrote to me 
that he did not know whether it was a picture of Germany or only the pic- 
ture of a tragic soul. I have always regarded this question as a justification 
of my work, for what I wanted to do was, in fact, to exhibit clearly those 
elements which dwell in the soul of every individual German and distinguish 
him from other citizens of this world. What I was seeking, therefore, was, 
if you will permit me the somewhat arrogant expression, more than the man; 
it was the German." (ibid., pp. n f.) 



442 THE GERMAN MIND 

As already pointed out in the course of this study, during 
the totalitarian epochs like the present, the German is not 
free from discord between the two basic motives of his inner 
life, the totalitarian desire for completeness, oneness within 
himself as a creature of the earth, and the transcendent long- 
ing to embrace the infinite the universe with all its manifold 
varieties which issue from and merge into the Absolute, that 
"unity of all differences." During a totalitarian epoch of his 
history, the German seeks escape from this basic discord of 
his mind in impetuous and vehement work for the future 
greatness of the race, and in what he believes to be heroic 
creative sacrifice of the individual to the racial whole and its 
destinies. 1 On the contrary, during the epochs of his history 

1 C. the following worth-while example of Nazi self-analysis bearing on the 
psychological and philosophical experiences which doubtless played an impor- 
tant role in the conversion to Nazism of many of its enthusiasts: 

"They have lost faith in science and reason as the powers capable of build- 
ing up a better world. They experience repulsion, physical repulsion, toward 
all those over-clever ladies and gentlemen with their self-righteous rationalism 
which had robbed our fathers and grandfathers of their faith in God and 
men and abandoned them to the most abject poverty, spiritual and material. 

"The individual, uprooted from the relationships determined by the hier- 
archy of values prevalent in former centuries and from the sacred, stable cer- 
tainties depending upon those values, finds himself hopelessly confused amidst 
events which shape the course of history for a long future; he looks in anxiety 
and horror for something solid to hold to, for an Absolute against which he 
may lean his individual existence, so that it may not senselessly pass away. 
As a result, men in whom the feeling of belonging to their race was still 
alive, saw, as if by a sudden revelation, that the godly they had sought and 
had been longing for in their mystic yearning was deposited in their own 
race, hidden somewhere in the depth of the blood and its destinies. They 
turned away from all rationalistic clap-trap. They worried little about 
scholars who assert that "nation" and "race" those noble concepts are 
vague, debatable concepts; they knew that some other savants affirmed the 
contrary. They needed no proofs to uphold their faith because they had 
penetrated the truth of the new faith not through the intellect; vehemently 
it arose from an inarticulate feeling. When the concept "nation" and "race" 
were sealed with the blood of such men and women, these concepts took on 
a fascinating appearance and became a new reality. The man of the twen- 
tieth century sought a new "Mythus," a new creative faith. He has found 
it in the Third Reich, in which nation is the supreme value, higher than 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 443 

when he was motivated primarily by the longing for the in- 
finite he sought escape from the inner dualism in the undying 
past that touches upon the eternal and strove to stand closer 
to the Kingdom of God and its truth, for the triumph of 
which he neglected earthly comforts, political and economic, 
and was ready to sacrifice his very life. Then the German 
nation was, as it may become again in the future, the nation 
of religious leaders, of poets, and philosophers. 

But to return to the ties of heroism employed during the 
climaxes of totalitarian epochs, as they are used now by the 
Nazi, for harnessing "infinitism" to the totalitarian chariot, 
we may recall, by way of diversion, how in his electoral cam- 
paign at the close of the World War, Mr. Lloyd George prom- 
ised that, if maintained in office, he would make the country 
fit for heroes to live in. Soon, however, the slogan was turned 
against him by the Opposition, and his second administration 
was described as rapidly transforming the country into a place 
which only heroes could endure. Not quite fair to the Eng- 
land of the second Lloyd George administration, the descrip- 
tion in question would fit much better the present-day Third 
Reich. All its prescriptions, prohibitions, and proscriptions 
are a burden to its inhabitants. The Fiihrer doubtless realizes 
this and builds a safety valve on his nation's "Wagnerian taste 

which its supporters do not know. Those who "do not believe in it are wor- 
shippers of false gods. ... 

"Blood and soil, the nobility and high breeding of the race, the breaking 
down of material enslavement, in a word all for which the Third Reich 
stands, brings light and hope into former joyless impasses. One can dream 
about these things, can thrill oneself by thinking of them; this does one more 
good than calculating political and economic interests and haggling with poli- 
ticians. Good men want to have something to hope for, to believe in to be 
total fellows (ganze Kerle). Hence the vital drive (Drang) of the full- 
blooded young generation, for which there was no place under the prior 
order of things, the drive from the suffocating narrowness of existence out 
to the fullness of life." (Zwischenspiel Hitler, rit., SS. 7 f.) 



444 THE GERMAN MIND 

for heroics and death." In this, the National Socialist regime 
exploits skillfully and not without the contagion of the per- 
sonal example of the Fiihrer himself, the characteristic Ger- 
man tragic conception of life and the periodically recurring 
totalitarian escape from dualism into the heroica of nationalism 
and patriotism. 

The claim, however, is justified that among sincere, edu- 
cated supporters of the Nazi regime many received at least 
a part of their education toward heroic individual sacrifice 
for the sake of transcendent values in no other school of 
thought than that of Kant, Fichte, Goethe, Nietzsche. 

Kant's doctrine of duty is well known; his heroic concep- 
tion of struggle for existence is set forth as follows in the 
essay on the Idea of Universal History: 

"It seems as if nature cared not at all that man should 
live happily, but only that he should discipline and develop 
himself. In the course of history earlier generations seem 
to carry on their thankless efforts only on account of those 
that follow, laboring, as it were, to prepare a stage on 
which they can raise to a higher point the edifice designed 
by nature; so that only the latest comers can have the 
good fortune of inhabiting the dwelling which the long 
series of their predecessors has toiled, though without any 
conscious intent, to build up. But this is necessary if we 
once assume it was intended that a species of animals en- 
dowed with reason should exist, and that, as a species 
(which is immortal, though all individuals in it die), they 
are to attain the full development of all their capaci- 
ties. . . . 

"The means which nature used to bring about the de- 
velopment of all man's capacities is the antagonism of 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 445 

these very capacities as they are manifested in society, an 
antagonism which in the end is turned into a means for 
the establishment of social order. 

"Now it is just this resistance which awakens man's 
powers, and which drives him, in the lust for honor, 
power, and riches, to win for himself a rank among his 
fellow men with whom he cannot live at peace, yet with- 
out whom he cannot live at all The natural impulses 
which prompt this effort are the spurs which drive him 
to the development of his powers. Without these, in 
themselves by no means lovely, qualities which set man 
in social opposition to man so that each finds his selfish 
claims resisted by the selfishness of all the others, men 
would have lived on in an Arcadian shepherd life, in per- 
fect harmony, contentment, and mutual love; but all their 
talents would have remained forever hidden and unde- 
veloped. Thus, as gentle as the sheep they tended, they 
would have given to their existence a value scarcely greater 
than that of their cattle. And the place among the ends of 
creation which was left for the development pf rational 
beings would not have been filled. 

"The history of the human species as a whole may be 
regarded as the unraveling of a hidden plan of nature for 
accomplishing a perfect civil constitution for society as the 
sole state of society in which the tendencies of human na- 
ture can all be fully developed." 1 

Among the German thinkers who propounded the idea of 
heroic sacrifice, Fichte deserves our special attention in view 
of the influence which his writings have exercised on Hitler, 

1 "Idee zu einer allgemeinen Geschichte in weltburgerlichen Absicht," Drit- 
ter Satz, Vierter Satz, Samtliche Wer\e, Verlag von Felix Meiner in Leipzig, 
1913, B. VI, S. 8 . 



446 THE GERMAN MIND 

and in view of the place of honor which the philosopher, to 
be sure suitably adapted, is given in the education of the 
German youth, in particular of future leaders. Some of his 
characteristic appeals to the German youth of his time may be 
recalled here. The personality of Fichte as a leader has found 
a happy portrayal in Windelband's words: 

"Fichte was a man of iron energy, but also of such in- 
difference to the reactions of the world as to create the 
constant danger of frustration of his reformatory ideas. 
He was moved by fiery reformatory zeal; he was possessed 
of prophetic spirit. He earnestly desired to have mankind 
accept as an ideal conviction his philosophy, which he 
believed destined to rebuild the distressingly misshaped 
world. Indeed, he was possessed of a Kantian devotion 
to the ideal; he struggled for the triumph of his ideal, 
went straight toward it, without looking to the right or 
to the left. He passionately preached the tidings of the 
Kantian categorical imperative, heedless of whether obedi- 
ence to it necessitated the sacrifice of his own or other 
men's personal welfare." 1 

In 1804-1805, after the Napoleonic danger to Germany, in 
particular to Prussia, had taken a sinister turn, he wrote: 

"Reasonable life consists in this, that the individual for- 
gets himself in the group (Gattung), ties his life to the 
life of all and sacrifices himself for the whole; unreason- 
able life is this, that the individual thinks of nothing but 
himself, loves nothing but himself and in relation to him- 
self, and seeks nothing but his own well-being. . . . 

, x Windelband, W., Die Geschichte der ncueren Philosophic, 5. Auflage 

(l9Il), S. 211. 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 447 

"Nothing individual can think in and for itself, but 
everything lives in the whole, and this whole in un- 
bounded love constantly dies for itself, in order to live 



anew." * 



"While their age round them carelessly enjoyed its day, 
the heroes were lost in lonely thought, in order to dis- 
cover a law, a causal nexus, which had aroused their aston- 
ishment and whose discovery they most yearned for. 
They sacrificed pleasures and fortunes, they neglected 
their own affairs, they wasted the finest flowers of their 
existence, and were ridiculed as fools and dreamers. But 
their discoveries have been of great value to human life." 2 

In response to the humiliating Treaty of Tilsit, imposed by 
Napoleon on the defeated Prussia in 1807, Fichte sounded, 
through his celebrated Addresses to the German Nation 
(Reden an die Deutsche Nation), the call for the mobilization 
of moral and spiritual German forces to safeguard the na- 
tional honor: 

"He has lost all sensitivity who is not aroused at the 
present condition [of Germany]. . . . You continue to 
let pass the various circumstances among which you 
should make your choice and decision. If you persist in 
your insensitive indifference, then all the evils of serfdom, 
privations, and humiliations, resulting from contempt and 
arrogance on the part of the conqueror, will befall you. 
You will then be knocked and tossed in every nook, be- 
cause you will be a people without rights and a folk that 

1 Die Grundzuge des gegenwartigen Zeitdters, translated in Engelbrecht^ 
H. C., Johann Gottlieb Fichte: A Study of His Political Writings with Spe- 
cial Reference to His Nationalism, New York, Columbia University Press, 
1933. Cf. Fichte's Der geschlossene Handelstaat. 

* Ibid., p. 87. 



THE GERMAN MIND 

is constantly in somebody else's way, until you can buy, 
at the price of giving up your nationality and language, a 
little place somewhere and be extinguished as a nation. . . . 

"It depends on you whether you will be the end and 
last of a race, unworthy of respect and despised by poster- 
ity even more than you deserve; whether you will be a 
generation the history of which if there still can be any 
history of the barbarism that will result from your down- 
fallwill make posterity rejoice over your end and praise 
fate for the justice meted out to you for your unworth- 
iness; or will you be the beginnings and germ of a new 
time, glorious beyond all your imaginings, and those from 
whom posterity will reckon the years of their welfare. . . . 

"Together with your forefathers, your posterity yet un- 
born conjures you to action. . . . Foreign lands, in so far 
as they truly understand themselves and their own inter- 
est ... all humanity counts upon you. . . . 

"Do not entertain hope and consolation with the airy 
argument from the self-repetition of history, and do not 
believe that on the ruins of the old civilization and out of 
the nation fallen into barbarism there will rise a new civi- 
lization. ... If you go down, together with you will go 
down humanity, with no hope of resurrection. . . ." 1 
The parting words of Faust contain this reflection: 

"Wisdom's eternal word it is, 
Freedom like life is only his 
Who conquers in a daily strife." 

Goethe, in his best hours of yearning for the infinite, towered 
above all national envies, rancors, and hatreds; he knew, in 

1 "Reden an die Deutsche Nation" (Vierzehnte Rede), Johann Gottlieb 
Fichu?* sammtliche WerJte, Berlin, 1846, Verlag von Vest und Comp., B. 
VII, SS. 481-499. 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 449 

his other hours, all the gamut of personal enjoyments. Most 
willingly, however, he returned to the heroic-missionary 
moods, of which the following observation found in the Con- 
versations with Ecl^ermann is typical: 

"Every extraordinary man has a certain mission to ac- 
complish. If he has fulfilled it, he is no longer needed 
upon earth in the same form, and Providence uses him 
for something else. But as everything here below hap- 
pens in a natural way, the daemons keep tripping him up 
till he falls at last. Thus it was with Napoleon and many 
others. Mozart died in his six-and-thirtieth year; Raph- 
ael at the same age; Byron only a little older. But all 
these had perfectly fulfilled their missions; and it was 
time for them to depart, that other people might still 
have something to do in a world made to last a long 
while." 1 

Professor Henri Lichtenberger gives an enlightening analy- 
sis of the heroic mysticism of Goethe. Having discussed the 
philosophical symbolism of Goethe who, both as a poet and 
as a student of nature, "saw the Eternal-Human behind the 
accidental, a type behind the individual, unity behind mul- 
tiplicity," and having traced the influence exercised on Goethe 
by the studies of the mysticism of Plato and Plotin, M. Lich- 
tenberger well summarizes the foundations of Goethe's mystic 
adoration of heroic sacrifice: 

"This idea of self-sacrifice, through which the religious 
soul seeks to bring to an end the dolorous illusion of 
dualism and individualism, is familiar to Goethe. 'Die 
and be,' exclaims he in the most penetrating of the poems 

York, E. P. Button & Co., 1931, Everyman's Library, p. 152. 



450 THE GERMAN MIND 

of the Divan, 'Blissful Nostalgia/ in which he sings the 
mystical theme of the butterfly perishing in the torch and 
celebrates 'the living that aspires to death in the flame/ 
Similarly, in the episode of the Homunculus in the second 
Faust he dwells on the same theme of the individual's 
. voluntary dissolution into the universal life, of joyous 
submission on the part of a finite creature to the law of 
the universe, and to the metamorphosis which leads a 
being, through death, from one life to another and toward 
ever higher forms of existence." * 

Goethe did not limit himself to preaching sacrifice but prac- 
ticed heroism, at least heroism of a kind, in his unsparing 
work at the message that he had for the Germans and man- 
kind. It may also be recalled that in his daily life, his youth 
over with, Goethe was inclined to a simplicity bordering on 
asceticism. 2 

1 Lichtenberger, H., La Sagesse de Goethe, Paris, La Renaissance du Livre, 
s.d., pp. 39 if., esp. 45-46. 

2 Cf. D'Harcourt, R., "La sagesse pratique de Goethe," Revue des Deux 
Mondes, 15 mars 1932, pp. 369 if.: 

"Upon his return from Italy to Germany Goethe faithfully practiced sim- 
plicity in his working environment. He believed that comfort was adverse 
to the work of an artist and that a certain element of hardness in the environ- 
ment was indispensable to the artist's productivity. He divided his beautiful 
residence of Frauenplan into two parts, one intended for others and one for 
himself. For the public he sumptuously furnished the front part of the 
house, made of it a sort of museum of antiquities, and adorned it with an 
impressive stairway. For himself, he arranged modest quarters in the back 
part of the house, between the yard and the garden. 

** Tou don't see,' he said to Eckermann, 'in my room any divan. I always 
sit on this old wood chair, and it was only a few weeks ago that I added a 
plank on the back to rest my head against. Comfortable and luxurious envi- 
ronment lames my thinking power, makes me passive. Magnificent rooms 
are made for princes and the rich. He who lives there feels satisfied, full to 
overflowing; he has no aspirations. All this is entirely against my nature. 
In an apartment like the one I occupied at Karlsbad I feel lazy and I lose the 
desire for activity. A meagre lodging, on the contrary, like this villainous 
room where we are now, a little a k toheme t in which disorder is order, is 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 45! 

As to Nietzsche's school of heroism, an abundance of evi- 
dence bears out what Count Harry Kessler wrote recently 
about the philosopher's influence on the German youth around 
the turn of the present century, the youth that made the 
officers' corps of the German army in the World War: 

"Upon my graduation from the gymnasium in Ham- 
burg, I enrolled first at the University of Bonn and then 
at Leipzig. I studied law, history of art, and philosophy. 
Over the desert of doubt and uncertainty which these 
studies had spread in my mind, Nietzsche rose like a 
meteor. His writings, still little known, which we passed 
from hand to hand, seemed to predict not only the com- 
ing of a new society but above all the coming of a new 
man. They created in us a mystic thirst for heroism. His 
ideas, his prophesies, his style held us spellbound. No 
writer or philosopher has exercised a similar grip on a 
whole generation for a long time." x 

Some of the younger graduates of these schools of heroism 
of Kant, Fichte, Goethe, Nietzsche who fell in the World 
War made in their letters from the front confessions such as 
poignantly illustrate the point under consideration that is, 
the connection between totalitarian heroism, in particular the 
desire to escape from the discord between "infinitism" and 
"totalitarianism," on the one hand, and the love 'of sacrifice 
almost for its own sake, on the other. 

Thus Otto Heinebach, a student of philosophy at the Uni- 

exactly what I need. My nature finds in such a milieu liberty through ac- 
tivity. I can create, drawing on my inner funds. 1 . . . 

"To Goethe, the art of living consisted above all in the courage for strug- 
gle. The sentence that sums him up best is the one he used in speaking of 
himself: C I have been a man, which means that I have struggled.' " 

1 "Souvenirs sur Bismarck," Revue de Pans, i 6 * mai 1936, p. 15; see also 
his Souvenirs d'un Europeen, Paris, Plon, 1937. 



452 THE GERMAN MIND 

versity of Berlin, who was born in August, 1892, and died 
from wounds in September, 1916, wrote from the Verdun 
front to his parents: 

"If I should not return, don't let this event break your 
hearts, I beseech you. Remember, that in all probability 
I should never have reached full happiness and content- 
ment; perhaps until the end of my natural life I should 
have remained torn inside by the contradiction between 
one's wish and power of achievement, between striving 
and accomplishing, dream and reality. . . ." 

Franz Blumenfeld, a student of law at the University of 
Freiburg, Breisgau, born in September, 1891, killed in De- 
cember, 1914, wished to explain in a farewell letter to his 
mother why he had volunteered for the war: 

". . . even if I were convinced that I could serve my 
fatherland and its people better in peace than in war, I 
should think it just as perverse and impossible to let any 
such calculations weigh with me at the present moment as 
it would be for a man going to the assistance of somebody 
who is drowning to stop to consider who the drowning 
man was and whether his own life were not perhaps the 
more valuable of the two. For what counts is always the 
readiness to make a sacrifice, not the object for which the 
sacrifice is made." 2 

1 Witkop, P., Brieje gefallener Studenten, Miinchen bei Georg Miiller, 1929, 
S. 212. 

2 German Student/ War Letters, cit., p. 20. 

Cf. Keyserling, H., Europe, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1928, 
pp. 109 f.: 

'The uncanny element in German immoderation becomes wholly incom- 
prehensible when that element rages without aim. The deepest impulse of 
the German is opposed to purposefulness. He does that which an inner force 
compels him to do. But if in the case of an ideal, or of great spirits, this 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 453 

A poet correctly translated the general sentiment of the 
nation during the World War when he sang: 

"Live on high O Fatherland beloved. 
And deign not to count the dead! 
Not one too many fell." 

The teachings addressed to the present-day German youth 
by the National Socialist leaders are keyed in the tones of pious 
exaltation (einc Art jromme Wahns) which characterize the 
addresses of the Fiihrer. More will be said about this in my 
next volume, but a few examples should perhaps be given here. 
The following one is typical of the habitual strains in Hitler's 
appeals to the youth during the Nazi "incubation" decade 
1923-1932, as reported in the Volkisher Beobachter, in which 
there can be readily recognized the Fichtean Leitmotiv: 

"Through the loss of the war the German people has 
been delivered over to a lot such as Germany never ex- 
perienced before. But what is still more horrible is the 
fact that the people shows itself unworthy of its great past. 
What torments us most cruelly is the fact that at this grave 
and decisive hour of the history of Germany millions of 
Germans do not have the will to be any longer Germans. 
What do we see around? The triumphs of cowardice and 
vice. If we should measure the future of Germany by 
its present, we would have to arrive at this sad conclu- 
sion: If our people does not become different from what 



leads to the rarest kind of achievement and creation, it has, in the case of the 
people as a whole, and throughout all its history, characteristically led to 
what, in Deutschlands wahrer poMscher Mission, I have defined as 'sense- 
less heroism.' The original model of the German man of action has really 
been, at all times, the soldier of fortune. The senseless hero-life of the 
warrior is not without beauty; it is the affirmation of tragedy, and built itself 
up on it; and all tragedy is deep." 



454 I* 1 GERMAN MIND 

it is now, Germany has no future, and the future would 
have no meaning, because living for the sake of eating is 
not life. . . . 

"Yet, the day this people will decide once more to serve 
the country and consecrate its effort to a higher goal, we 
are sure a miracle will produce itself. But in order that 
the miracle may produce itself in the mass of the German 
people, it is necessary that it be accomplished in each in- 
dividual. . . ." 

Addressing 50,000 young Nazi brought to the Nuremberg 
Convention in September, 1936, as a reward for faithful service 
to the National Socialist Party, the Fiihrer congratulated them 
in these words: 

"You are finer youth than Germany ever had before. 
You have the good fortune to be witnesses to a great pe- 
riod." 1 

And the Fiihrer's principal lieutenant, Dr. Alfred Rosenberg, 
echoed: 

"We are entering a great period of history a period 
in which not the wiseacres but the brave will come out on 
top. We must be ready for every sacrifice God demands 
of us. We must have that which is most indispensable 
of all raw materials the ore of the iron heart." 2 

Hero worship is placed by the National Socialists on a broad 
social basis. For the first time in the history of Germany the 
triad soldier, peasant, workman has found itself included 
in the scheme of the cultivation of national hefbism. As an 
illustration of the way in which this new pattern is woven 

1 Associated Press, Nuremberg, September 12, 1936. 

2 Associated Press, Nuremberg, September 15, 1936. 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 455 

into the sacred carpet, the following passage from a paper on 
the National Socialist Youth Movement may be cited: 

"The young generation, whether born before or after 
the World War, has as a godfather the war experiences. 
Two million fellow-citizens who fell in the World War 
remind the young with the voice of their sacrifice that the 
young are born for the benefit and happiness of the Ger- 
man people as a whole and not for that of themselves 
as individuals. Therefore, it is much more than simply an 
attempt to bridge class distinctions when the National 
Socialist youth is given as a guiding example the triad: 
Soldier, Peasant, Worker. This triad is a symbolic per- 
sonification of the philosophy of life which is made of 
Will, Action, Sacrifice. 

"Not every German soldier was a hero. Only a few 
men chosen by the grace of God can be heroes. But the 
German soldier showed the attachment to duty which 
proved stronger than the very will to live. He was a 'so- 
cialist' who divided with his comrades even the last piece 
of bread and the last drink of water, and he was a great 
character capable of mastering great obstacles because he 
obeyed his commanders even when the command was 
hard to fulfill. 

"The German peasant-farmer, who does not poetize na- 
ture because at times he almost can touch the fog with his 
hand, goes over to his field and plows it, and plants it, 
and works and works, never knowing whether he will 
reap the harvest. He knows nothing else but this duty 
to till his land and to extract from it strength and life for 
the whole nation. 
"And as the last example there comes the German 



NM-30 



45^ THE GERMAN MIND 

worker. Together with thousands of his fellows who 
share the like fate, he marches into the factory and stands 
there, tried hard by life, and yet he creates, humbly and 
quietly, through his work 'a slave of duty and of iron.' " 
(LerscL) x 

To nourish this heroic disposition on the part of the farmers, 
in particular, who have been the Fiihrer's staunchest sup- 
porters, special and not undeserved compliments are addressed 
to them, such as they scarcely ever heard under the previous 
regimes. These compliments are couched along the line of 
Nietzsche's following thought: 

"The peasant is the commonest type of noblesse, for 
he is dependent upon himself most of all. Peasant blood 
is still the best blood in Germany for example, Luther, 
Niebuhr, Bismarck." 2 

The nation as a whole is instructed in Mein Kampf: 

"That this world will some day be involved in a life- 
and-death struggle, no one can doubt. ... In perpetual 
conflict the human race has grown to greatness in per- 
petual peace it would be ruined." 8 

Dr. Ernst Krieck, Professor of Philosophy and Education 
at the University of Heidelberg, draws for the benefit of his 
listeners and readers this conclusion: 

"The change in the view of life which is taking place 
so significantly among the German people is inseparably 
bound up with a new education, with the culture and 

iReimer, G., "Die nationalsozialistischc Jugendbcwegung und ihr Stil" 
Dcutsches Philologen-Blatt, August, 1933, S. 369. 
2 Peoples and Countries, Paragraph 13. 
8 Hitler, A., op. cit., S. 149. 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 457 

training of a new age, with a new conception of State 
and Law, with the organic economic system and all forms 
of public affairs. Reduced to a formula, this attitude to- 
wards life may be called the realism of a people taking the 
heroic view of life ('national heroic realism')." 1 

The National, Socialist Youth leader, when unveiling a 
statue of the Archangel Michael as a war memorial, exhorted 
his listeners as follows: 

"Here we will not speak the warm words of peace, the 
words Home and Fatherland. Our words are spoken in 
the face of the awful summons of war. Youths, your 
hands are now raised in an oath before this monument 
which is erected to the sublimity of bloodshed and 
Michael is the Angel of Death and you are swearing that 
your lives belong to the Reich and your blood to the 
Leader." 2 

Democracy, in this connection also, is again condemned 
and presented as an unheroic form of government. The past 
German leaders who believed that the best capacities of the 
German people could find their realization under the Weimar 
Constitution, are characterized as opportunists and hedonists; s 
their supporters are accused of "lascivious apathy, of a con- 
fused, colorless, vacillating attitude toward lif e " 4 The Third 
Realm wants the young people to understand that "only 
through the nostalgia for grandeur man can become a great 



creature." 5 



iKrieck, E., "The Education of a Nation from Blood and Soil," Interna- 
tional Education Review, 1933-1934, m P- 39- 
2 The Times (London), October 31, 1933- 
8 Moeller van der Bruck, A., op. cit. 
4 Zwischenspiel Hitler, cit., S. 5. 
'Harcourt, R., "La jeunesse Hid&ienne," Revue des Deux Mondes f P 

decembre, 1933, p. S 1 ^ 



458 THE GERMAN MIND 

The German youth drinks up avidly the Dionysian wine of 
the heroica. A French journalist, by no means a sympathizer, 
comparing the general appearance of the German youth 
prior and subsequent to the National Socialist revolution, re- 
marked: 

"Before, they were the picture of dejection and preoc- 
cupation. . . . Now they look like an entirely new race 
of people; one might say they all resemble Lohengrin." x 

As it is natural for Lohengrins, their totalitarian devotion 
to their leaders and heroes is not disturbed on the whole by 
analytical doubts. Yet if after they have accepted the idea 
of personal sacrifice for the ultimate ends of the Third Realm, 
the question should worry some of them as to the inevitable 
sufferings of those who may find themselves in the way of 
the Endreich at home or abroad, a ready answer is supplied. 
It was given already by H. S. Chamberlain, and is to the effect 
that the "Powers of Chaos" can not be dealt with gently; that 
progress is impossible without sanguine struggle; that the 
supreme right is never polite; that masters cannot be sweet 
and soft individuals, nor can they always be scrupulously just, 
while warring upon the "Powers of Chaos." Those who will 
have distinguished themselves by superlatively faithful and 
fruitful services to the Third Reich will be granted the su- 
preme honor of burial in the Nazi cemetery at Nuremberg: 

"Described as being 'seeped through and through with 
the Hitler spirit,' the burial ground will contain beautiful 
graves for 200 of the National Socialist 'foremost fighters,' 
surrounded by a laurel grove. 

"A quarter of the space allotted to the cemetery will be 

1 Villemin, B., "Fetes et geoles de Baviere," Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 
Janvier 1934, pp. 360 f. 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 459 

devoted to the creation of an enormous parade ground in 
order to facilitate the great parades which take place on 
the occasion of State funerals. 

"Before each body is laid to rest it will lie in state in a 
huge sarcophagus, which will serve as a bier of honor. 

"Every tombstone and grave will be exactly similar in 
size and design, in order 'to symbolize further the prin- 
ciple of brotherhood of fighters and conquerors.' " * 

Notwithstanding the various totalitarian exaggerations which 
characterize the National Socialist preachments of political 
mysticism and heroism, these two aspects of the activities of 
the Nazi before and after their advent to power, undoubtedly 
hold the major secret of the "miracle of Hitler"; that is, they 
seem to have been the principal instruments through which the 
epochal ascendancy of "totalitarianism" over "infinitism" 2 op- 
erated this time. 

As an event of social and political history, the "miracle of 
Hitler" is a bloodless overthrow of a liberal republic of doctors 
by an unacademic prophet of a harsh totalitarian State, who 
was not a victorious general either. This "miracle of Hitler" 
offers to liberal democracies, which have eyes to see and ears to 
hear, a clear, historic lesson. The lesson appears to be two- 
fold: the romantic! appeal, on the part of a political leader, to 
the heroic in man's nature may become a more dynamic politi- 
cal force than economic considerations; man is prone to rally 
to a political philosophy which holds forth, persuasively, a scale 
of transcendent values. 

Those students of contemporary German history seem close 
to the truth who see in the "miracle of Hitler" a victory of the 

1 Reuter Dispatch, Munich, July 17, 1936. 

2 Cf . pp. 339. 404- 



460 THE GERMAN MIND 

romantic over the economic The promises of material pros- 
perity which the Nazi had made during the prolonged cam- 
paign for political power can hardly be called irresistibly allur- 
ing. The National Socialists had spoken in harsh, Spartan-like 
terms and tones much more of the German's multiple and 
sacrificial duties to the supreme form of collectivity, the Ger- 
man Third Reich, than of his rights, economic or otherwise. 
Their socialism was, indeed, a minor attraction in comparison 
with their nationalistic mysticism and romanticism. The ex- 
pectations of a material millennium, as a result, played a minor 
role in the rise of the Nazi. Nor was the stout defiance toward 
the former Allies, now the mutually distrusting "guardians" of 
the Treaty of Versailles, the major cause of the Nazi success. 
The tenacious and quite subtle work of the postwar German 
diplomats, trained in the school of Miiller, Stresemann, and 
Briining, had already resulted in the abrogation of several im- 
portant provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, and further 
success was in view. Thus, wind was being taken out of Nazi 
sails trimmed for the liquidation of the economic, military, and 
territorial consequences of the loss of the war. 

But in one very important sphere of national life, the field 
was left free for Nazi conquest of political power. That vital 
field was the field of transcendent values, where man seeks his 
philosophical reasons for existence. Fortified by the possession 
of this field, the National Socialists took the political strong- 
hold with a swiftness and smoothness that would have been 
astounding, almost miraculous, if not for the simple, sober fact 
that man is above all a worshipful being. He loses his power 
to live when he loses his faith in something for which to live. 
Man cannot hold his own in the struggle of life unless he has 
faith in himself; but he cannot have faith in himself unless he 
believes in something beyond and above himself. When, be- 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 461 

cause of any faith-shattering experience, man loses his old faith, 
he is hungry and thirsty for a new faith. As a result, what 
seemed to be the bewildering victory of Nazism was, in truth, 
an easy conquest by a faith of the faithless emptiness and 
inanity created by false "Liberals," who had spread among 
the German middle-class and lower-middle-class parents and 
youths alike the impression that, in the end, liberalism meant 
nothing more or less than skepticism, relativism, and licentious- 
ness, individual and social. Thus, false "Liberals," who in- 
fluenced the school, the press, the theater, the radio, and the 
rostrum, had succeeded in, shattering in many Germans, espe- 
cially of the younger generation, the traditional German faith 
that admixture of Christian idealism, German traditionalism, 
and moderate nationalism. For that shattered faith, pseudo- 
Liberals had no substitute to offer. 

True liberalism, as a philosophy of life, does not have to fear 
competitors. It draws its inspiration, in the last analysis, from 
the respect for the dignity of human personality and for its 
sovereign, inalienable rights of liberty religious, political, phil- 
osophical, and economic. These rights, the true Liberal be- 
lieves, may reasonably be restricted only by the rights of others 
and are to be surrendered to the collectivity only as an emer- 
gency measure when a mass movement is necessary to protect, 
indeed, to save individuals from the loss of their lives or their 
inalienable rights. True liberalism is, then, a tolerant and co- 
operative attitude in search of truth religious or philosophical, 
economic, social, aesthetic. True liberalism does not mean 
having no conviction, no loyalty to a definite scale of values; 
it means a reasonable respect for the sincere convictions of 
others and a willingness for a reasonable compromise in the 
application of conflicting scales of values, professed by individ- 
uals or groups, to the organization of law and order. 



462 THE GERMAN MIND 

False liberalism with its Bacchanalia of skepticism, rela- 
tivism, and licentiousness is, on the other hand, subject to the 
inevitable competition from any philosophy of life and govern- 
ment that would seem to give to sound and unspoiled hearts a 
noble "reason for existence." Socialism, in particular its ex- 
treme form, communism or bolshevism, sought to supply such 
"reason for existence"; and at times it looked as if communism 
were going to dig the grave for false liberalism in Germany. 
But then, to the element of "infinitism" in the German, which 
never completely leaves him even in the most totalitarian 
periods of his history, the communistic wallowing in word or 
deed in low, drab, cynical materialism was unbearably repul- 
sive. Not only did the average German revolt against die ugly 
violence which communism preached and had already amply 
put into practice in Russia and which was producing no better 
results than misery, poverty, and tyrannical regimentation for 
all except the highest-placed communistic bosses; but he had 
also sensed that communism, in the last analysis, would reduce 
human personality to the position of a mere economic atom. 
The communistic materialistic conception of man as a mere 
physiological machine, as an electro-chemical accident of elec- 
trons and protons, was unacceptable to the average German; 
it was repulsive both as an ugly, gruesome philosophy of life 
and as a source of grave political dangers at the hands of in- 
dividuals to whom man is nothing but a piece of physiological 
machinery. 

Thus, the average German, in his longing for a philosophy of 
life which would give him reasons for existence, was, on the 
one hand, deserted by liberalism which had effaced itself before 
false liberalism; on the other hand, he was repelled by the 
materialistic philosophy of communism. While lost in the 
wilderness of skepticism and relativism and starved for tran- 



UNITY THROUGH IMPETUS 463 

scendent values, he heard a voice that promised to lead him 
out of the wilderness and to stay his thirst and hunger. This 
voice, in its political mysticism and heroica, seemed to offer a 
higher plane of living where the average individual was to be 
elevated from the position of a mere economic atom to that of 
a pillar of the nation and the race, both building up toward 
higher values. In his thirst and hunger for the transcendental, 
the average German did not stop to reflect, nor did he notice, 
or if he did, was not shocked by, the harshness, the brutality, 
or the narrowness of the Nazi romanticism. He followed the 
voice of the Fiihrer. 



Chapter VIII 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES 



ADAGIO PRESTO FURIOSO 

Nietzsche said that "the Germans are a dangerous people; 
they are expert at inventing intoxicants." x We have tried to 
point out that the conciliation or the "marriage" between 
"totalitarianism" and "infinitism" occurs, precisely, through 
the intoxication of an overpowering impetus, the urdeittsche 
Wucht, or the furor teutonicus as the Roman poet Marcus 
Annaeus Lucanus (d. A.D. 65) called it. In this union which 
tends to turn the inner discord, or the dualism, of the German 
soul into a harmony, and which seeks to regenerate Germany 
and make it the Prometheus of mankind, whether mankind 
wish it or not, the spirit of "totalitarianism" is to be the 
master. A young university student explained in a letter from 
the front how such a union took place in him: 

"The universe taken as a whole is characterized by 
harmony, meaningfulness, and greatness. The individual, 
on the other hand, is the picture of disharmony; but this 
disharmony is necessary in order that harmony may be 
born from sheer strength and impetus." 2 

1 Peoples and Countries, Paragraph 7. 

2 Briefe gefallener Studenten, cit., S. 300. Letter of Hans Miensch, student 
of philosophy, Leipzig, born in January, 1897, died from wounds in May, 

465 



466 THE GERMAN MIND 

The extraordinary German capacity for impetus manifests 
itself in various aspects of national life. The language of a 
nation is said to be the mirror in which its soul is reflected. 
The German language is characterized by the tendency to 
climaxes in diction and sentence structure. The long com- 
pound words in which several concepts are welded to wind 
up the last root in the compound to a powerful spring may also 
be recalled. In distinction from the clear, concise French sen- 
tence, the German sentence is tinged with a Dionysian tension 
resolving itself in a climax the predicate is withheld until 
the end of the sentence. Talleyrand, during a conversation 
with a group of diplomats which was conducted, as sometimes 
happens, in several languages simultaneously, each interlocutor 
using his mother tongue, showed a tense expectation while the 
German member of the group was making a point. Someone 
asked Talleyrand, "What are you waiting for?" "For the 
verb," answered the witty Frenchman. 1 German conversa- 
tion is to a large extent free from the reserve, subtle reticences, 
and evasive circumlocutions characteristic of English conversa- 
tion. A typically German conversation is a kind of crusad- 
ing, as of the Nibelungen search for the Rhinegold; it usually 
ends in a climax, sometimes quite gripping. A prolonged 
German conversation, even when the interlocutor is a perfect 
stranger and a foreigner besides, has in it the lovely element 
of lyricism, or confession of faith, which may at times, in the 
words of Keyserling, "outrage every rule of good sense by 
telling the whole truth." 2 

A long catalogue of the peculiarities of German impetus 
might be compiled; but limitations of our study restrict us 
to a brief analysis of what seem to be its principal surprises 

1 Lacour-Gayet, G., Talleyrand, Paris, Payot, 1931, t III, p. 430. 

2 Keyserling, H., Europe, cit., p. 126. 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES 467 

when regarded from the viewpoint of international repercus- 
sions as well as the training of the future German leaders. 

One of such surprises is that German impetus does not re- 
quire as a motive a definite objective; on the contrary, the 
objective may be left quite indefinite, but it must necessarily 
have the touch of grandeur. "The German's delight," rightly 
says Herr F. Sieburg, "in the formative process contrasts with 
the Frenchman's delight in the finished object." 1 M. Paul 
Valery has also uncovered some of the vital peculiarities of 
German impetus. He pointedly speaks of the German's 
"strange virtue of fulness, oneness, fatalistic furor for doing, 
for becoming, for transforming, for not leaving at the end 
of one's life the sensible world what it was at the time of one's 
birth." 2 His analysis of the German delight in "becoming" 
(Warden) as over and against "being" (Seiri) also merits 
quotation in this connection: 

"We have fooled . ourselves about German 'indefinite- 
ness.' Because in France all that has vitality possesses 
clear contours, the absence of sharp profiles in the masses 
beyond the Rhine has led us to suppose in them lack of 
cohesion. In reality, the absence of clear form made it 
possible for this elastic German matter to be poured into 
any opening. In time of peace we saw how it penetrated 
into the porous neighboring countries. It is precisely to 
her lack of contour that Germany owes her prodigious 
power of expansion." 8 

Oswald Spengler showed a keen insight into the national 
psychology of his people when he pointed out that the im- 

1 op. dt., p. 69. 

2 Oeuvres, Edition de la N.R.F., t. 5, p. no. 

8 "Reflexions sur 1'Allemagne," Oeuvres, cit. t t 9, p. viil 



THE GERMAN MIND 

petuous German "formlessness" is one of the causes of the 
inclination to "Caesarism," in other words to a totalitarian or 
dictatorial form of government. 1 

Another important surprise of the urdeutsche Wucht con- 
sists in the alternation, in one and the same person, between 
impetuous action and dreamy abandon; the latter serves as 
the recreation from the former and must not be mistaken, as 
it has often been, for indolence, meekness and organic harm- 
lessness at least not during the climax period of a totalitarian 
epoch. Goethe's charming poem "Discord" (Zuncsfdt) may 
be recalled in this connection: 

"When by the brook his strain 

Cupid is fluting, 
And on the neighboring plain 

Manors disputing, 
There turns the ear ere long, 

Loving and tender, 
Yet to the noise the song 

Soon must surrender. 
Loud then the flute-notes glad 

Sound 'mid war's thunder; 
If I grow raving mad, 

Is it a wonder? 
Flutes sing and trumpets bray, 

Waxing yet stronger; 

1 "By the term 'Caesarism' I mean that kind of government which, irre- 
spective of any constitutional formulation that it may have, is in its inward 
self a return to thorough formlessness. . . . Real importance is centered in 
the wholly personal power exercised by the Caesar, or by anybody else capable 
of ^exercising it in his place. It is the return of a form-filled world into 
primitivism, into the cosmic historyless. Biological stretches of time once 
more take the place vacated by historical periods." (The Decline of the 
West, cit., Vol. II, p. 431.) 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES 469 

If, then, my senses stray, 
Wonder no longer." * 

Victor Hugo praising the musical genius of the German 
people observed, in the Ann6e terrible, that German music 
alternates the cry of the eagle with the song of the sky lark. 
A contemporary French student of the German national char- 
acter drew an interesting parallel between German music and 
German mentality: 

"German music has its surprises. It readily passes from 
tender and sentimental adagio to a sudden explosion of 
bugles, trumpets, drums and timbals. So does the Ger- 
man soul. We must therefore not let ourselves be lulled 
by the soft and tender part of its song." 2 

Count H. Kessler in his memoirs of Bismarck speaks of the 
Iron Chancellor's 

"astounding aptitude to volte-face, stupefying alternation 
between granite hardness pushed to the point of brutality, 
and wheedling (cdHinerie) almost feminine, carried to the 
point of the most refined flattery and subtlest charm. One 
might say that he had inherited from rude peasants of the 
Brandenburg lowland the power of sheer strength and 
from the imperial and royal courts of the time of Nich- 
olas I and Metternich their favored art of ruse and sly- 



ness." 8 



Dr. Gustav Stresemann, before the collapse of the German 
military power in the World War, was one of the leading 

1 The Poems of Goethe Translated in the Original Metres by Edgar Alfred 
Browning, London, George Bell's Sons, 1891, p. 387. 

2 Rcdslob, R., "Les impressions de Munich," Le Temps, i w novembre 1929. 
8 "Souvenirs sur Bismarck," Revue de Paris, i 61 mai 1936, pp. lof. 



470 THE GERMAN MIND 

public men most disinclined to a peace of compromise; in fact, 
he supported the not too modest or moderate peace terms 
wished for by Hindenburg and Ludendorff. 1 Later, after the 
loss of the war, when time came to court France in the person 
of M. Aristide Briand, Dr. Stresemann became again, for the 
occasion, the "dreamy Jorg" 2 of his youth, Traumjorg, as his 
mother called him. The Prussian eagle turned a dove of 
peace, "Stresemann the European." Dr. Stresemann played 
his diplomatic game, which he himself explains in a letter to 
the former German Crown Prince written at the time of the 
Locarno flirtations, 8 so much the more successfully as he was 
genuine in his pacifist Herzenergiessungen at the time of those 
memorable Geneva and Locarno heart-to-heart talks with 
Briand. He thereby achieved the advanced evacuation of the 
Rhine zone by the Allies, 

Another significant feature of German impetus through 
which the discord between "totalitarianism" and "infinitism" 
is brought to a harmony, is the tendency to expend the totali- 
tarian impetus, at least during the climax of a totalitarian 
epoch, in an indomitable Siegfriedian fighting spirit made of 
an unusual admixture of Dionysian mysticism and sheer to- 
talitarian impetus. Such fighting spirit pervaded and sustained 
the warriors of the Nibelungenlied: 

1 For Germany's plan of conquest see Baker, N., Why We Went to War, 
New York, Harper & Brothers, 1936, pp. 18 ff. 

2 Stresemann, G., Vermachtnis, Berlin, Verlag Ullstein, B. I, SS. 529, 532. 

8 Demiashkevich, M., Shackled Diplomacy, cit., p. 40. Cf. also the follow- 
ing bit of conversation between Briand and Stresemann, recorded or real- 
istically imagined by a biographer of Stresemann: "Briand. You worry me 
with your Stahlhelm. Your people are so self-important and they feel like 
nothing on earth when they have clapped a helmet on their heads. Strese- 
mann. You misjudge them; that's just an innocent national impulse. Our 
Reichswehr Minister Gessler found the right explanation for these people. 
They want to be able to offer the servant girls as much as the soldiers ever 
did militia bands, gay uniforms, and last but not least, kisses." (Valentin- 
Luchaire, Stresemann, New York, Richard R. Smith, 1931, p. 246.) 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES 471 

"It is suffused with a glamor of the supernatural, with 
a weird magnificence, both of nature and of man. Its ac- 
tors are led on, or thrust on, by inevitable doom, their fates 
are foretold to them, and they go clear-eyed to the con- 
summation of all. There is no pettiness about any of 
them, they are all molded on the heroic scale, and the 
light about them is not the light of common day." * 

It was, doubtless, German soldiers of Siegfriedian caliber 
that decided the issue of the battle in the Teutoburger Forest 
(AJ>. 9) in which the Roman legions of Varus were destroyed 
by Arminius (or Hermann) and his warriors; likewise war- 
riors of that caliber won for Germany its subsequent successful 
battles. To the performance of their descendants who are our 
contemporaries and who fought the battles of the World War, 
T. E. Lawrence paid the following tribute, well deserved 
though couched in his peculiarly high-pitched style: 

"I grew proud of the enemy who had killed my brothers. 
They were two thousand miles from home, without hopes 
and without guides, in conditions mad enough to break 
the bravest nerves. Yet their sections held together, in 
firm rank, shearing through the wrack of Turk and Arab 
like armoured ships, high-faced and silent. When attacked 

1 Sway, A., The Lay of the Nibelungen Men, p. X. 

Note: This tendency to expend the impetus in res militaris is reflected in 
an anecdote which the author- recalls reading in an Austrian newspaper and 
which is related to the postwar adaptation, partly genuine and partly camou- 
flage, of war industries to the manufacturing of peace time goods, such as 
furniture or agricultural implements. A workman employed at one such fac- 
tory, the metamorphosis of which was furniture making, was returning home 
after the day's work. In the course of conversation with a friend, the former 
munition worker remarked that he again had failed to make a baby carriage 
that he had promised to his wife. When his fellow asked why wouldn't he 
stay at the factory after work several evenings and make the perambulator, 
he received this answer: "The trouble is that whenever I start making the 
perambulator, it turns into a machine gun." 



4T 2 THE GERMAN MIND 

they halted, took position, fired to order. There was no 
haste, no crying, no hesitation. They were glorious." l 

During a totalitarian epoch the German's very world woe 
(Weltschmerz) is susceptible to transformation into the enthu- 
siasm for an imperialistic international policy. This enthu- 
siasm is then embellished with a certain kind of Dionysian 
poetic glow. What the Crown Prince of Germany called, in 
his recollection of the second battle of the Marne in July, 1918, 
"the apocalyptic symphony of destruction" 2 had for the Sieg- 
friedian combatants the romantic fascination experienced by 
Fieldmarshal von der Goltz, who wrote in a letter to his son: 

"I thoroughly enjoy the wild poetry of war and I have 
formed a perhaps un-Christian fondness for it against 
which I cannot defend myself." 8 

Still other surprise inherent in German impetus is that it is 
not an uncontrollable mob hysteria, but is entirely compatible 
with discipline: Wucht mit Zucht. 

Hitler wanted to give to the National Socialist movement a 
vehement character; he declared in Mein Kamff: 

"The future of a movement is conditioned upon fanat- 
icism, the intolerance with which its supporters assert 
themselves as the only orthodox representatives of the idea 
embodied in the movement." * 

The Minister for Propaganda, Dr. Paul Goebbels, addressing 
the National Socialist party functionaries, contrasted the power 
of decision possessed by the Third Reich with the lack of it 

1 From Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T. E. Lawrence, pp. 633 ., copyright 
1926, 1935, by Doubleday, Doran and Co., Inc., New York. 
2 Kuhl, H., Der Weltfaeg, cit., B. II, S. 380. 
3 Op. dt. t S. 362. 4 Op. cit., S. 384. 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES 473 

shown "by certain European powers." Alluding to England 
and her indecision during the Italian conquest of Ethiopia, he 
said, not without contempt: 

"The States that have undertaken to preserve order in 
the world have demonstrated that they are completely in- 
capable of doing so. They have no power and if they had 
it they would probably be too cowardly to use it." x 

The exaltation of the "total man," of the strong hand, of 
vehement action, of heroic death, had led some observers of 
German affairs to fear an imminent outbreak of another world 
conflagration, an explosion of national military fury which the 
Government that conjured it might not be able to control. 
These fears proved unfounded. The German people is show- 
ing itself fully possessed of discipline. Unless and until the 
Government calls the nation to a military action, the indi- 
vidual seems readily persuaded by the leaders to expend the 
surplus impetus in conquering himself, in making himself a 
better member of his profession or vocation and above all a 
better German after the image of the Fiihrer. 

This strict "discipline of work,'* preparatory to the supreme 
drive "for the realization of the highest value," will, Dr. 
Rosenberg predicts, be borne by the nation joyously dur- 
ing long years. 2 Did not Hitler give the watchword when he 
declared in Mein Kampf that the justice of his foreign policy 
"will not be recognized until after barely a hundred years, 
two hundred and fifty million Germans are living on this 
continent"? 3 Subsequently the Fiihrer unfolded before a 
Nuremberg Nazi Convention his intentions, already fore- 

1 Wireless to the New York Times, July 5, 1936. 

2 Op. cit., S. 485; Wireless to the New York Times, July 5, 1936. 

3 Op. dt. f S. 767. 



474 raE GERMAN MIND 

shadowed in Mein Kampf, to take away from Russia prac- 
tically all her rich lands. He painted a picture of plenty which 
such acquisition would bring in contrast with Germany's pres- 
ent difficult struggle against the shortage of raw material. He 
added, however, that the task of conquering Russia might take 
a generation. It may be said that diplomatic considerations 
the wish to keep not only the Bolshevist Government of Russia, 
but also the British and the French governments off their 
guard made desirable the greatest qualification of that most 
war-like declaration ever made by the Fiihrer thus far. Even 
so, the Fiihrer doubtless knew that with regard to domestic 
as well as internation affairs he could safely indulge in the 
most dangerous form of diplomacy diplomacy by inconti- 
nent menace and excitement. He knew he could appeal at 
one and the same time in his speech to his people's impetus 
and discipline; from the former he could expect, as response, 
a totalitarian determination and effort, from the latter, no less 
a totalitarian patience. 

IMPETUS VERSUS JUDGMENT 

Among the far-reaching surprises inherent in German im- 
petus are also instances of astonishingly poor judgment on the 
part of German leaders instances of intelligence blinded by 
impetus. 1 A few historical cases will suffice to exemplify this 
particular German surprise. These illustrations, taken from 
among the well-established facts of the World War, its ante- 
cedents, and aftermath, come under three interrelated sources: 

1 Cf. Chamberlain, H, S., op. dt. t Vol. I, p. 576: 

"Who could help crying with Ulrich von Hutten: 'Oh! unhappy Germany, 
unhappy by thine own choice! Thou that with eyes to see seest not, and 
with clear understanding understandest not!' . . . Luther went so far as to 
call the Germans 'blind people.' " 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES 475 

the lack of comprehension of the psychology of the opponents 
and neutrals; the underestimation of the powers of the adver- 
sary; the lack of ability correctly to adjust the objectives of an 
action to the nation's true power of endurance in other words, 
the overestimation of the nation's strength or the tendency to 
undertake more than one can do. 

An English military observer of the Germans during the 
World War and the aftermath wrote: "Give a German a 
human being to study and he will make a mess of it. Give 
him a thing to study and he will probably do better than any- 
one else." * This somewhat overdrawn statement contains a 
good deal of truth. German diplomats and military leaders 
were on several historical occasions guilty of poor psycho- 
logical insight into the mind of foreign nations. For example, 
in 1912 the British made their last attempt to come to an agree- 
ment with the Germans on the limitations of naval arma- 
mentsthe diplomatic event known as the Haldane mission. 
The German plans for an increase of their naval power, far 
in excess of the needs of national defense on the status quo 
basis, were considered by the British as dangerous to their 
imperial position. The Germans were not inclined to make 
an agreement but wanted to profit by the British overtures in 
order to maneuver Great Britain into the abandonment of the 
entente with France and Russia. What means did the Ger- 
mans think best fitted for their goal? They chose to bully 
Great Britain with an announcement of a further considerable 
naval building program, as an opening for the negotiations. 
The choice proved very unwise. M. Raymond Poincare, in a 
conversation with the British Ambassador to France, Sir 
Francis Bertie, on this injudicious move of the German Gov- 

1 Roddie, S., Peace Patrol, New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1933, p. 251. 

NM-3I 



476 THE GERMAN MIND 

ernment, showed an understanding justified by the subsequent 
course of international events: 

"Monsieur Poincar made some remarks on the strange 
ignorance which Germans in general seemed to have of 
the characteristics of races other than their own. The 
German Government in their dealings with France had 
given proof of that ignorance 1 and he hoped that the 
intended increase of the German navy just announced, 
which was a strange way of approaching the British public 
with the view to friendly negotiations, would keep open 
their eyes to the real designs of Germany." 2 

The conduct of German-American relations in 1915-1916 
which made inevitable the participation of the United States 
in the World War on the side of the Allies, is too well known 
to insist on it here as an example of the poor psychological 
judgment exercised by the German Government at the time. 
The German Supreme Command also badly misjudged the 
intellectual acumen of President Wilson and the Allied states- 
men when Hindenburg and Ludendorff forced the Imperial 
Chancellor Prince Max of Baden to address to the Allies 
through the medium of the President the request for ian 
armistice; it proved to be premature from the military point 
of view and a poor calculation diplomatically. The Supreme 
Command hoped to hoodwink the "doctrinary fellow," 8 as 
von Hindenburg characterized the President. After a super- 
ficial democratization of the Government of Germany under 
Prince Max, the German governing circles, in particular the 

1 Cf. Sieburg, R, op. cit., p. 68. 

2 British Documents, cit., Vol. V, No. 585: Sir Francis Bertie to Sir Edward 
Grey, Paris, May 16, 1912. See also our Shackled Diplomacy, cit., pp. 183 ff. 

8 Ludwig, E., Hindenburg, Philadelphia, John C. Winston Co., 1935, p. 
114. 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES 477 

Supreme Command, wanted the world to believe that "deeply- 
rooted constitutional changes" had taken place in German na- 
tional life 1 and expected the armistice conditions to leave 
intact the military power of Germany the power which had 
shown itself as the mortal danger to any nation or nations that 
might happen to be the object of envy or displeasure of Ger- 
many. Naturally, subsequent events showed the rulers of Ger- 
many that they had expected too much; inde iraelhe legend 
of "Wilson's betrayal" 2 

Another interesting case in point is afforded by the diplo- 
matic sublety, rather overdone, which was employed by the 
German armistice commission at the beginning of the negotia- 
tions a diplomacy of sheer "nerve," so to speak, which struck 
back as an additional humiliation. When the German com- 
mission headed by Minister without Portfolio Herr Matthias 
Erzberger were asked by Marshal Foch to state the purpose of 
their visit, Herr Erzberger replied that the German commis- 

1 Cf . the Fourth German Note to President Wilson of October 27, Tem- 
perley, H. W. V., op. cit., Vol. I, p. 456. 

2 Cf. the following entry in Dr. Harvey Cushing's diary: "Most important 
and significant of all was the news that came to us Sunday of the proposal 
from Max of Baden, the new Chancellor, for an armistice. 

"Weary as we all are of the war, the response seems to have been unani- 
mous unconditional surrender and we feel that it is but a clever dodge to 
let the Boche get off with a whole skin and withdraw his troops and stores 
quietly from France and Belgium rather than to do so with the Allies snap- 
ping at his heels. It's just like the "KAMERAD" of the machine gunner who 
has fired till the last minute and then throws up his hands, expecting to be 
spared. A Prussian squeal, in fact. 

"On July 31, 1914, they gave France 18 hours to declare that in the event 
of a Russo-German war she would remain neutral, betray her ally and as a 
guarantee give up Toul and Verdun to Germany till the end of the war. 
No one believes in Germany's honesty of purpose. This is no offer to make 
Peace. It's a proposal to halt the present battle, which is going against her, 
while she discusses President Wilson's peace principles. It's a matter for 
Foch, not for President Wilson to decide, and the only possible terms are for 
her to lay down her arms." (From Leaves from a Surgeon's Journal, by 
Harvey Gushing, an Atlantic Monthly Press Publication, p. 467. Reprinted 
by permission of Little, Brown & Company.) 



478 . THE GERMAN MIND 

sion came to receive the proposals of the Allied Powers look- 
ing to an armistice on land, on sea, and in the air, on all the 
fronts, and in the colonies. Marshal Foch replied that he had 
no proposals to make. In the end the German delegation had 
to declare, of course, that they came to sue for an armistice. 1 
Another piece of misplaced diplomatic subtlety designed by 
poor psychological judgment, occurred soon afterward. The 
armistice terms included the immediate surrender of the 
larger part of the German High Seas Fleet into the custody of 
the British who acted in behalf of the Allied and Associated 
Powers. When on November 21, 1918, the Grand Fleet re- 
ceived the submission of the German ships, it was an event 
without parallel in the history of naval warfare. In the space 
of twenty-four hours a country that had been dreaming, not 
at all idly, of sea domination was reduced to the level of a 
fifth-rate naval power. One can understand, of course, the 
state of mind of the German Admiral and his officers, and of 
the men not converted to the Spartacist point of view, who 
had to go through the ordeal; one can sympathize in particular 
with the reluctance to haul down the German flag by order of 
the British Admiral. The latter humiliation, however, could 
have been avoided. The German Admiral could have hauled 
his flag down of his own accord or replaced it with some 
emblem of mourning, and thus escaped the humiliation of 
taking a crushing order from the enemy. It would have been 
more chic to do so, but the German Admiral undertook an 
utterly futile game of finessing. He protested to Admiral 
Beatty the severity of the order, asserting that the status of his 
ships was that of a neutral in a neutral port. He received the 
reply, such as he should have anticipated, to the effect that a 

1 The Memoirs of Marshal Foch, New York, Doubleday, Doran & Co., 
1931, pp. 467^. 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES . 479 

state of war still existed, that the German ships were in cus- 
tody and that no enemy vessel could be permitted to fly her 
colors in a British harbor. 1 

It has become evident that the Germans have in many re- 
gards profited by their defeat more than the Allied and Asso- 
ciated powers by their victory. Diplomacy, however, which in 
substance is the art of correct psychological judgment based on 
an intimate knowledge of other lands, has not become a strong 
point with the Germans. True, they have improved consid- 
erably the selection and training of their diplomats; substan- 
tial training in international affairs is given the general staff 
officers. 2 True, also, German diplomacy has well understood 

1 Rowson, G., Earl Beatty: Admired of the Fleet, London, Jarrods, Second 
Impression, 1930, pp. 212 ff. 

3 Cf . the following summary of the new German ideas on the importance 
of this educational objective taken from Professor Ewald Banse's volume, 
Germany Prepares for War, pp. 69 f ., copyright, 1934, by Harcourt, Brace and 
Company, Inc., New York: 

"Nations go to war because one wants to impose its will on the other and 
the other objects; but the actual conflict is simply a test of strength and is 
governed by its own laws. This test of strength is only apparently a question 
of armaments and preparations; in reality and at bottom it is a moral affair, 
in the course of which it must become clear which of the two parties has the 
stouter heart and the tougher character. He who would measure his strength 
against another's must not only be in good form himself, but must also know 
his adversary thoroughly. If he does not, he may meet with some very un- 
pleasant surprises. . . . 

"One can never take one's opponent any opponent, whether another na- 
tion or an opposing party too seriously. It is fatal to underrate him; this 
has been proved over and over in every colonial war during the past hun- 
dred years, and the fact that big Austria-Hungary was unable to dispose of 
little Serbia without our help speaks volumes. It is surprising how often 
the story of David and Goliath repeats itself. He who takes the field believ- 
ing in his victory as a foregone conclusion, is pretty certain to be defeated. 
For victory means concentrating one's strength to the utmost, putting one's 
whole soul into the struggle, and having no desire left but to fight and win. 
'I shall fight before Paris, I shall fight in Paris, I shall fight behind Paris/ 
cried Clemenceau, but the Germans turned back at the Marne though they 
need not have done so. ... 

"The essence of all preparation for war is getting to know one's enemy, 
judging his strong and his weak points in laborious detail. This prevents 
waste of strength and resources, which would otherwise be expended in 



THE GERMAN MIND 

and played up the weakness and dissensions of the Great Eu- 
ropean Powers, which often fully deserved the nickname given 
to them by Bismarck during one of the interminable Balkan 
crises, les grandes impuissanccs. On the other hand, some 
major moves of German diplomacy suggest that German im- 
petus still has the upper hand in the conduct of diplomatic 
affairs. 

Furthermore, if the Fiihrer has sought to achieve bloodless 
conquests by intimidating the world into territorial concessions 
to Germany, it seems that he has miscalculated. The fear 

wrong directions, and enables everything to be concentrated on the vital 
points in the enemy's position. One must know whether the enemy is weak 
or strong, whether he is of a stubborn or yielding disposition, whether he 
is implacable or inclined to negotiate, whether his nerves are sensitive or 
the reverse, whether he has character or not, whether he is nimble-witted 
or slow-witted, apt to go to pieces or hard as steel, accessible to enemy 
propaganda or not. This may be illustrated by examples taken from the 
Great War. 

"The Germans underrated most of their enemies and overrated their 
allies, at least their principal ally, whose concealed decomposition into 
separate nationalities they had never properly realized. Above all, the 
Germans had no notion of the tenacity and organizing power of the Anglo- 
Saxons on both sides of the Atlantic. Nobody in responsible circles ever 
expected that England would raise an army a million strong and send it 
to France within a year, and would put close on 10,000,000 men altogether 
into the field. No one would have dreamed that America would have 
more than 2,000,000 men in France within eighteen months of declaring 
war. And why not? After all, these Englishmen and Scotsmen, and these 
Americans are our closest kinsmen and endowed with very much the same 
capacities for thought and effort, action and achievement. . . . 

"Of the French, too, we had formed a wrong estimate. They were sup- 
posed by us to be degenerate and effeminate. Our rulers did not know 
that the French upper, class consists of hard-bitten Northerners who know 
how to impose their authority on the masses and maintain it by brutal 
force. The Frenchman not only made a nimble and skillful soldier, with 
a much better idea of how to conduct himself in the field than the Eng- 
lishman, whose strong suit is rather holding and sticking it out; but he 
also proved a bitter and determined foe, who knew very well that the 
war was a matter of life and death for his people and his country. His 
determination and his intelligence these were his two strong points. In 
view of the latter it was a bad blunder on the part of our higher command, 
in launching their fourth great offensive in July, 1918, to follow exactly the 
same tactics as had been successful in the three previous ones." 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES 481 

aroused is far beyond the degree that would be desirable from 
the German point of view. To say nothing of the would-be 
victims themselves, the nations less directly concerned, such as 
might have been willing to countenance the satisfaction of 
Germany's territorial needs or even mere appetites at the ex- 
pense of the other fellow for instance, of the unlucky Russia 
crippled by the communistic Soviet regime and thus to pre- 
serve international peace, appear to be reluctant to give Ger- 
many the encouragement she desires for despoiling the other 
fellow. The world at large appears to have been so frightened 
by what seem to be the ultimate intentions of the Nazi leader- 
ship that all more or less amicable cession of territory to the 
Germans is generally regarded tantamount to furnishing them 
additional sources of war munition against itself. 

The blinding effect of impetus upon the evaluation of the 
worth of the adversary has also repeatedly directed the coun- 
cils of the German Supreme Command and Government. 
One or two instances may be recalled that clearly proved a 
grave hindrance to the realization of the German hope, not so 
light-mindedly formed, to win the war. 

The mighty German drive for the bulk of the French armies 
which were retreating southwest, first in the general direction 
of Paris and later even southeast of the capital, ended in the 
loss of the battle of the Marne because of a certain carelessness 
of the German Supreme Command x in not providing for the 

x The organization of the German Supreme Command was as follows: 
"The Kaiser was the Supreme [War Lord, in other words, Commander-in- 
Chief of the Army and the Navy. Theoretically he exercised his command 
through the Prussian Chief of the General Staff of the Army and the Navy. 
In actual practice orders were issued by the Chief of Staff in the Kaiser's 
name, and the Chief of Staff was the actual Commander-in-Chief who 
merely procured the Kaiser's concurrence in any important decision." 
(Neame, P., Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, German Strategy in the Great War, 
London, Edward Arnold & Co., 1923, PP- 3*0 At the beginning of the 
World War the Chief of the General Staff and, consequently, the real 



482 THE GERMAN MIND 

principal operation sufficient numbers. This error was due to 
the intoxicated and intoxicating reports from field units, un- 
critically accepted by the Commander-in-Chief, which de- 
scribed the phalanxes of the Kaiser as sweeping before them 
the utterly demoralized and defeated French and English 
divisions. As a result, it came as a surprise which indeed 
demoralized the German Supreme Command when Joffre's 
troops, which were supposed to be running away in complete 
disorder, turned about and attacked the Germans September 
6, 1914. 

Among other irreparable errors committed by the Supreme 
Command and comprehensible only in the light of intox- 
ication with the totalitarian impetus was the error of expos- 
ing the right flank of the First German Army to an attack 
from Paris. In the words of Marshal Gallieni, "the savior of 
Paris," 

"the Germans had already made the error of underestimat- 
ing the power of resistance of the Belgians thought inca- 
pable of opposing the invasion of their country by the Ger- 
mans. Now they were going toward a bitter disappoint- 

Commander-in-Chief was General von Moltke. After his retirement as a 
consequence of losing the battle of the Marne, General von Falkenhayn was 
appointed Chief of Staff. Next, after the loss of the battle of Verdun by 
Falkenhayn, von Hindenburg was made Chief of Staff in the summer of 
1916 and Ludendorff his Quartermaster General. These two men, in the 
last analysis Ludendorff as the more able of the two, and their immediate 
technical advisers were the Supreme Command. The Kaiser, overwhelmed 
with events, and a weak individual at heart, acquiesced in everything that 
the Supreme Command proposed. At the slightest opposition on his part, 
Hindenburg and Ludendorff threatened him with their resignation, which 
the Kaiser feared to face in view of their great popularity with the nation 
and his own growing unpopularity. He found an outlet for his impotent 
rage at the Generals' independence in the outpourings of his marginal 
remarks written on the copies of newspaper articles, and in heartily approv- 
ing hints at the usurpation by the Generals of the supreme authority, not 
only in military but also in civil matters. See Rosenberg, A., The Birth of 
the German Republic, cit. f pp. 129 f. 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES 483 

ment in imagining that the Army of Paris would remain 
immobile within the fortified camp awaiting with dread 
the arrival of the enemy. In the afternoon of September 4 
this illusion was dissipated." 1 

Marshal Joff re, looking back at the events in which he took 
the leading part, reflected as follows upon the German error 
under consideration: 

"The German soldiers and civilians, generals and dip- 
lomats, were the worst psychologists, very fortunately in- 
deed for the French. If they had had, along with all their 
other qualities, the one that was lacking in them, a feel- 
ing for shades of difference, an exact understanding of 
other peoples, they might have made themselves masters 
of the universe. Kluck 2 was persuaded that this long re- 
treat, which he interpreted as almost complete 'rout, had 
sapped the morale, the fighting spirit of both the English 
and the French troops. The ordinary precautions which 
he probably would have the good sense to take against a 
seriously dangerous opponent, seemed to him henceforth 
unnecessary in dealing with the French and British 



armies." 3 



As still another significant case in point, it may be recalled 
how the expectations relative to the effect of the submarine 

1 Memoires du Martchal Gattieni, Payot, Paris, 1920, p. 121. 

2 General von Kluck, Commander of the First Army. 

8 Recouly, R., J off re, New York, D. Appleton-Century Co., 1931, pp. 145 f. 
Cf. also Field-Marshal French, German Mentality, Boston, Houghton Mifflin 
Co., 1919, p. 107: "The first necessity for the enemy was a quick decision by 
a great victory to be achieved at once. They were outmarching their supplies; 
there was Russia to be crushed and their frontier to be secured; and further, 
a prolonged campaign was what they desired to avoid at all costs. The 
desperate attempt was no sooner fairly launched than the fatal error of 
over-confidence and the folly of underrating one's enemy stared at them in 
the face with all its stupendous consequences." 



THE GERMAN MIND 

campaign upon the fighting capacity of the Allied countries, 
particularly England, serious though that effect was, proved 
to be greatly exaggerated by the German naval authorities. 
Blinded with the successful beginnings of the submarine cam- 
paign, the Germans made two capital errors: they failed to 
provide a sufficient number of submarines, which would have 
been entirely within the capacity of German industries, and 
they also undervalued the ability of the Allies to provide means 
of defense against the submarine. According to General von 
Kuhl the following was the way in which things went amiss 
in this campaign: 

"Representatives of industries declared at a meeting held 
at the Reich Ministry of the Marine in June, 1916, that 
they could double the construction of submarines on the 
condition that a definite building program was immedi- 
ately authorized. In reality the Ministry of the Marine did 
not call for the services of all the available private ship- 
yards. The Ship Yard Department of the Ministry as it 
.is now known did not want to place large orders for sub- 
marines; they asked themselves the question what they 
would do with a large number of submarines when peace 
has been concluded. Evidently peace was believed much 
closer than it was. One cannot help thinking what effect 
the submarine warfare would have produced if we had in 
February, 1917, two hundred submarines instead of one 
hundred! Crews for such a number of submarines could 
have been drawn from the High Seas Fleet. . . ." * 

The news that the Allies had decided to use the system of 
convoys as a means of protection of their freight and passenger 
traffic received a contemptuous appraisal. 

1 Von Kuhl, H., op. dt., B. II, S. 151. 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES 485 

"Von Hetzendorff [Chief of Naval Staff] believed that 
conveyed 'trains' of ships were an extraordinarily thank- 
ful objective for the submarine; this judgment has in no 
way been borne out by the events that were to occur. On 
the contrary the system of convoys caused a considerable 
increase in our losses of submarines. He further expressed 
himself as skeptical of the significance which the United 
States joining the Allies would have for the increase of the 
tonnage available for the Allies." x 

In January, 1918, the leader of the Vaterlandsfartei, Grand 
Admiral von Tirpitz, the builder of the German naval power, 
announced: "America's military aid to the Allies is and re- 
mains a phantom." 2 

Even though it was denied after the World War, the Ger- 
man military authorities, notably General von Moltke, be- 
littled before and at the beginning of the war the potential 
weight of a British expeditionary force. "We will send police 
to have them arrested," was the saying. The Americans were 
given, in a statement made to the Reichstag by Admiral 
Capelle, the rating of a negligible quantity militarily. The 
Admiral declared that while the Americans had a vast man 
power, they had no officers or noncommissioned officers to 
train the men; that even if they succeeded in training their 
men, the difficulties of transportation would make it impossible 
to bring American soldiers to Europe in time and in numbers 
sufficient to play an important role in operations; that, in par- 
ticular, even if they crossed the ocean, the German submarines 

*Ibid. t S. 161. 

2 Quoted in the deposition of Professor Hans Delbruck before the Com- 
mission of Inquiry appointed by the Reichstag to investigate the causes of 
the loss of the war: Schwertfeger, B., Oberst A. D., Ursachen des Zusam- 
menbruchs: Entstehung, Durchfuhrung und Zusammenbruch der Offensive 
von 1918, Berlin, Verlag von Reimar Robbing, 1923, S. 231. 



486 THE GERMAN MIND 

would take care that they did not land in Europe the sub- 
marines would sink them when they approached land. The 
Admiral concluded that America counted for nothing "first, 
second, and third time counted for nothing from the military 
point of view." * 

Dietrich Schafer wrote, reflecting on the fate of the First 
Reich, which ended with the loss of the Italian possessions and 
the imperial title by the Hohenstaufens in the thirteenth cen- 
tury: "Such was the final result of the policy of the Staufens. 
They were like the bird that struck too high a flight and could 
not find the way home." 2 This insufficient sense of what is 
possible clearly manifested itself at the end of the Second 
Reich, in the World War. It expressed itself not only in the 
incorrect estimation on the part of the German authorities of 
the potentialities of the adversaries but also in the overestima- 
tion of the power of endurance, great and admirable as it was, 
of their own nation. A group of patriotic and clear-sighted 
"Apollonian" Germans headed by Friedrich Naumann, Pro- 
fessor Jack, and Dr. Robert Bosch, in a confidential memo- 
randum submitted to General Ludendorff on February n, 
1918, warned the Supreme Command that the sacrifices to be 
demanded from the nation by the offensive which was being 
prepared by him for the spring of 1918 would exceed the peo- 
ple's power of endurance. The authors of the memorandum 
recommended that the German armies remain on the defen- 
sive, but that German diplomacy begin an offensive by an un- 
equivocal declaration of the intention to restore full sovereignty 
to Belgium. Ludendorff, in his reply, overlooked the sugges- 
tion relative to Belgium, lectured the authors of the memo- 

*See Kuhl, H., op. cit., B. I, S. 127; also Die Uilitarischen Lehren des 
Grossen Krieges, herausgegeben von M. Schwarte, Generalleutnant z.D., 
Berlin, 1920, Ernst Siegfried Millers Sohn. 

2 Deutsche Geschichte, Jena, 1922, Verlag von Gustav Fischer, B. I, S. 326. 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES 487 

randum on action as the prerequisite of success, and declared 
that Germany's action should be a great offensive on the 
Western Front: 

"Attack has always been the German method of war- 
fare. The German troops wish for peace as much as the 
people at home, and welcome the prospect of breaking 
away from trench warfare. The offensive will be not 'one 
of the general staff/ but one of the German armies and 
also of the German people, and therefore will succeed, 
God helping." * 

This "peace attack" (Friedenssturm) which was to bring 
peace by bringing the Allies to their knees, degenerated into 
a series of indecisive, exhausting offensives March 2i-July 15, 
1918 and finally broke the nerve not only of a considerable 
percentage of German troops but also that of the Supreme 
Command itself. Then the latter, with a striking Dionysian 
inability to sense how much was possible, at the end of Sep- 
tember, 1918 without transition and after the assertion, con- 
tinuous until then, of the impregnability of the front informed 
the alarmed ranking members of the Reichstag that the stra- 
tegic situation had become hopeless and that the breakdown 
of the front might occur any day. 

At nine o'clock the morning of October 2, Vice-Chancellor 
von Payer introduced to the assembled Reichstag party leaders 
Major Baron von dem Busche, a special representative of the 
Supreme Command. Speaking from a note approved ^by 
Ludendorff, this messenger gave to his listeners the staggering 
news and then demanded that nothing which might betray 
weakness should be permitted to occur: "If the peace offer be 
made, you at home must show a firm front, to prove that you 

1 Schwertf eger, B., cit., SS. 72 & 



THE GERMAN MIND 

have the will to continue the fight if the enemy refuses us 
peace or offers only humiliating conditions. . . ." "In this 
speech," says Ludendorff in his memoirs, "Baron von dem 
Busche pressed both my program and my views." 1 In his 
totalitarian blindness, Ludendorff that undoubtedly superior 
military leader made an elementary psychological blunder 
when he overestimated as he did the power of mental endur- 
ance of the German public. In all earnestness, Ludendorff 
expected something that even the German public with its 
totalitarian obedience could not perform. At his instance, the 
Government was to address to President Wilson the armistice 
note. This was a clear enough admission that the war had 
been lost and that all the sacrifices the nation had hitherto 
stout-heartedly borne had been in vain. And yet Ludendorff 
expected that public opinion, for four long years stimulated 
with promises of a smashing victory, would show a complete 
calm and firmness calculated to impress, indeed to scare the 
Allies into peace terms agreeable to Germany, as if nothing 
had happened. In the characterization of the French biographer 
of Ludendorff, General Buat, he believed that the Government 
could turn out morale just as Krupp manufactured guns. 2 

It was in those days in the fall of 1918 that Crown Prince 
Ruprecht of Bavaria described the real situation on the front 
in letters to his father, the King of Bavaria, as follows: 

"What I had long feared occurred even earlier than I 

, expected the defeat. The bow had been overbent and 

now it finally broke. . . . The situation grows visibily 

worse. Bad news of the mood of the troops continues 

coming in. Large units, inclusive of officers, have sur- 

1 Cf. Ludendorff s Own Story, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1919, Vol. II, 
p. 381. 

2 Buat, E.-A.-L., Ludendorff, cit., 1920, p. 55. 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES 

rendered themselves and made themselves war prisoners 
of their own accord. What has been demanded of the 
troops surpasses all bounds of the bearable." * 

Qm trop embrace mal tireint, says the old French proverb. 
Their blinding totalitarian impetus more than once led the 
Germans into the temptation of biting off more than they 
could possibly chew. It is not altogether improbable that the 
future historian will find the Fiihrer's present ambition much 
in excess of his and Germany's power of accomplishing. At 
all events, the World War is rich in instances of excessive at- 
tempts; some of which are now cited. 

The offensive undertaken by the German Supreme Com- 
mand in the spring and early summer of 1918 is said by more 
than one competent observer of the World War and student 
of its history to abound in decisions prompted by the tendency 
to bite off more than one can chew. Among those more fre- 
quently cited is the production of salients in the line of the 
offensive, such as the one between Montidier and Chateau- 
Thierry or the one at St.-Mihiel, where the German Supreme 
Command, not having the good sense to evacuate it of their 
own accord, exposed the troops to the demoralizing flanking 
attack of the adversary. Likewise may be cited the inability of 
the Supreme Command in useful time to come to the decision 
of withdrawing without losses their armies to the Antwerp- 
Maas line, well-fortified and convenient to hold. To Marshal 
Foch is attributed the statement that if the German had not 
tried in his retreat to carry with him all his luggage accumu- 
lated during the four years of occupation of the French and 
Belgian territories, he could have made the progress of the 
Allies much more difficult, slow, and costly. 

1 Kronprinz Ruprecht von Bayern, Mein Kriegstagebuch, Berlin, Milder & 
Sohn, 1929, B. Ill, SS. 27 f. 



490 THE GERMAN MIND 

The validity of these criticisms has, however, been denied by 
the former German Supreme Command and several German 
writers. The theory of a "stab in the back" by the revolution- 
aries has been propounded. Fieldmarshal von Hindenburg says 
in the exordium to his political testament addressed to the Ger- 
man people and their Chancellor: "In 1919 I wrote in my will 
to the German people: 'We were finished. Just as Siegfried fell 
under the treacherous spear of the evil Hagen, so our wearied 
front broke down.' " 1 In all probability this theory is merely 
a legend created by the Supreme Command and overzealous 
patriotic German historians, military and civil It is contested 
on serious grounds by several authoritative foreign and Ger- 
man writers. But as this is neither time nor place to go into 
a documentary examination of the merit of the two points of 
view, we limit ourselves to mentioning a case of the over- 
reaching ambition, the historical authenticity and decisive im- 
portance of which is not contested by any worth-while German 
or foreign student of the World War the frustration of the 
celebrated Schlieffen plan in the "frontier battle" of August- 
September, 1914. 

Fieldmarshal Count von Schlieffen (d. 1913) was the Chief 
of the Army General Staff 1891-1906. A military leader 
capable of ideas at one and the same time brilliant, resolute, 
and profound, he conceived a strategical plan for the conduct 
by Germany of a European war, in which Germany would 
have as the principal opponents France, Russia, and England. 

Neglecting England, perhaps imprudently, the Schlieffen 
plan demanded that the initial German effort be directed 
against the French, whose military force was to be annihilated 
before the Russians, delayed by their immense distances and 
insufficient means of transport, should be ready to throw their 

1 Associated Press, Berlin, August 15, 1934. 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES 49* 

weight into the struggle; having defeated the French, vic- 
torious German armies would turn to the Eastern Front and 
defeat the Russians also. The strategy of the plan, that is the 
choice of principal objectives, was inspired by a clear lesson of 
military history. That lesson was concisely formulated by Na- 
poleon when he said that there were many generals in Europe, 
but they saw too many things; for himself, he declared, he 
never looked to see anything but the masses, which he tried 
to destroy, knowing well that if he succeeded in doing that, 
the rest of the operation would take care of itself. With re- 
gard to the method of achieving his first vital objective, von 
Schlieflfen was inspired by Hannibal's strategy in the battle 
of Cannae. 1 Thus stimulated, Fieldmarshal von Schlieffen 
worked out a detailed plan which, he believed, would, if prop- 
erly executed, guarantee the decisive success of Germany in a 
war against the major European coalition. The center of 
gravity of the plan was the crushing encirclement (nieder- 
schmetternde Umfassung) on the Western Front at the very 
beginning of the war. 2 

1 On August 2, 216 B.C., by the village of Cannae in the Apulian plain 
took place a battle between the Carthaginians led by Hannibal who num- 
bered 50,000 men and the Romans led by Consul Terentius Varro, 69,000 
strong. The battle was won by Hannibal, at the cost of 6,000 killed and 
taken prisoners, while the Romans lost 48,000 killed and 3,000 prisoners. 
The secret of Hannibal's success was the "concentric action," in other 
words encircling in turn and order the flanks of the enemy and getting 
behind his formations "roll up from flank to flank, round up and destroy." 
See Schlieffen, Count A., Cannae, Berlin, Mittler & Sohn, 1925, S. i fif. 

2 "Das Testament des Grafen Schlieffens," Operative Studien uber den 
Welttyieg, Mittler & Sohn, 1927; Kuhl, H., op. cit., B. I, SS. 7-106; Leinveber, 
Generalmajor a.D., Mit Clausewitz durch die Ratsel und Fragen, Irrungen 
und Wirrungen des Weltfyieges, Berlin and Leipzig, B. Behrs Verlag, 1926; 
LudendorflF, E., Ludendorffs Own Story, cit.; Recouly, R., Joffre, ]., cit.; 
Ironside, Sir E., Major-General, Tannenberg: The First Thirty Days in East 
Prussia, William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1925; 
Neame, P., op. cit.; Banse, O., op. cit.; Ministere de la Guerre, op. cit. f t 
VII-i; Buat, E.-A.-L., UArmee allemande pendant la guerre de 1914-1918, 
Paris, Chapelot, 1920; Hindenburg, Paris, Chapelot, 1921; Hindenburg et 



492 THE GERMAN MIND 

In substance, von Schlieffen's strategical plan rested on the 
advance of an elastic line aimed toward the enemy, with one 
or both German wings ready to turn inward and envelop the 
flank of the enemy, when the bulk of the enemy's forces had 
been located by some portion of the advancing line. In detail, 
and in its final form, the SchliefFen plan, inherited by his suc- 
cessor General von Moltke, prescribed a lightning-like advance 
on Lille, en route to Paris, of a very strong right wing pivoting 
on the fortress of Metz. While the left flank remained sta- 
tionary as far as Metz and kept the French busy in Alsace- 
Lorraine, the right wing was to hurry through unarmed neu- 
tral Belgium and the Franco-Belgian frontier, unfortified in 
accordance with the London Treaty of 1834 that guaranteed 
Belgian neutrality; the Germans were thus to avoid the forti- 
fied eastern frontier of France. As the culminating point of 
the principal operation against France, the Schlieffen plan con- 
templated the outflanking of the French left wing, driving the 
French forces up against their eastern frontier and the German 
left, in other words, destroying the bulk of the French armed 
forces in a gigantic Cannae. Shortly before his death in his 
eightieth year in 1913, von Schlieffen advised, "Strengthen the 
right wing, where decision rests" (der rcchte der deutsche 
EntschHessungsftugd). This most Apollonian military testa- 
ment, the brilliant wisdom of which is recognized even by the 
least indulgent critics of the work of von Schlieffen, was lost 
to his Dionysian successor. 

Under von Moltke's command prior to the war and in the 
actual campaign, the Schlieffen plan was weakened by two 
measures. First, the left German Wing was made stronger 
than von Schlieffen had recommended and this could be done, 

Ludendorff strati ges, Paris, Berger-Levraut, 1923; Koeltz, L., Lieutenant- 
Colonel, Le G. Q. G. Allemand et la bataille de la Marne, Paris, Payot, 1931. 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES 493 

of course, only at the expense of the right wing. The reason 
for this change of the Schlieffen plan was threefold: the desire 
to preserve intact the prestige of the German arms by not per- 
mitting the enemy to tread on any portion of the soil, not even 
that of Alsace-Lorraine, under German sovereignty; the re- 
luctance to expose to uneasiness and fear the Duchy of Baden; 
the belief that the superiority of the German arms would carry 
a rapid victory at all events. Von Schlieffen, on the contrary, 
had thought that the invasion by the French of Alsace-Lorraine 
and even of Baden was a worth-while risk for the Germans, 
as the French would be so much the weaker on their left flank 
in the decisive enveloping movement to be executed by the 
German right. 

The second step in the weakening of the Schlieffen plan was 
taken by von Moltke at the beginning of the war when it had 
become known that the divisions left in Eastern Prussia to 
defend it from invasion proved unable to stop the Russian ad- 
vance, after the Russian Commander-in-Chief, responding to 
the appeal of the French, threw the Second Russian Army 
under General Samsonov into Eastern Prussia, even before his 
concentration was completed and means of communication 
solidly secured. This rash decision of the Russian Commander- 
in-Chief the Germans had not foreseen in their peace-time 
preparations. From sentimental and political reasons and 
again from their overestimation of their own strength and 
underrating that of the enemy, the Supreme Command with- 
drew two army corps from the Western Front and sent them 
against the Russians, where they arrived, however, too late- 
after Eastern Prussia was saved in the battle of Tannenberg. 
The Germans, then, wanted to do much more than in reality 
they could they bit off more than they could chew; they de- 
sired to win the war speedily, without any damage or even 



NM-32 



494 THE GERMAN MIND 

menace by the adversary to any portion of their own territory. 
As a result, the German enveloping movement in the West 
failed through lack of numbers. 

Marshal Foch has aptly said that great victories are always 
won with left-overs. When two contending armies are of 
almost equal strength, as the right German wing and the left 
French wing in the battle of the Marne, a comparatively small 
additional force, just one or two army corps, are sufficient to 
turn the balance in favor of the party that had at its disposal 
a few divisions of "left-overs." After the two weakening 
measures were taken, the Germans found themselves unable 
and in their impetus did not think it strictly necessary to 
include Paris in their swing, and were outflanked themselves 
instead of outflanking the opponent. The relatively feeble 
French Sixth Army, rapidly formed in Paris, profiting by the 
advantages that the railway system of the capital and the 
proximity of the arsenal of Paris gave them over the enemy, 
attacked the left wing of the moving German First Army 
under von Kluck. This was the opening of the battle of the 
Marne, the significance of which is summarized by Mr. Wins- 
ton Churchill in the following gripping passage: 

"The German invasion of France was stopped. The 
avalanche of fire and steel' was not only brought to a 
standstill, but hurled backwards. The obsession of Ger- 
man invincibility was dispersed. There would be time 
for all to go to war time even for the most peaceful and 
unprepared countries to turn themselves into arsenals and 
barracks. Surely that was enough. All bent their backs 
or their heads to the toil of war; and in the instructed 
circles of the Allies none, and in those of the Germans, 
few, doubted which way the final issue would go. Never 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES 495 

again need we contemplate the entire surrender of the 
French Army before any other armies were afoot to take 
its place. At the very worst there would be parley, nego- 
tiation, barter, compromise, and a haggled peace. . . . 

"This, by a succession of unforeseeable and uncontrolled 
events was decided almost at its beginning the fate of the 
war on land, and little else was left but four years of sense- 
less slaughter. Whether General von Moltke actually said 
to the Emperor, 'Majesty, we have lost the war,' we do 
not know. We know anyhow that with a prescience 
greater in political than in military affairs, he wrote to his 
wife on the night of the pth, ' "Things have not gone 
well. The fighting east of Paris has not gone in our fa- 
vour, and we shall have to pay for the damage we have 
done."'" 1 

General von Moltke is said by his critics to have been a 
neurasthenic; perhaps he was one. But was not his condition 
caused, at least in part, by the inner split, the conflict between 
"totalitarianism" and "infinitism"? Documents offer a sug- 
gestion to this effect. The General wrote to his wife Septem- 
ber % 1914, the second day of the battle of the Marne: 

"A grave decision is going to fall today; our army all 
along the line from Paris to Upper Alsace is engaged in 
a battle since yesterday. If I could, today by giving my 
own life obtain victory for Germany I would gladly do 
it, as thousands of our brothers have done and are doing 
today. What rivers of blood have flown already! What 
misery surpassing all description has fallen on thousands 
of innocent people whose homes and farms have been 

1 The World Crisis, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1931, CL XI, 
"Marne/' 



496 THE GERMAN MIND 

shelled and burned! When I think of all this I am hor- 
rified. I feel responsible for all those terrible things and 
yet I could not have acted otherwise than I have." 1 

Herr Paul Sheffer, editor of the Berliner Tageblat, pub- 
lished at the time of the Olympics in Berlin an article in which 
he sought to bring about a favorable understanding of things 
that might seem unpleasant to outsiders. "We have become/' 
he explained, "a nation of mass meetings, mass theatres, mass 
celebrations, and mass elections." 2 Bismarck used to say, "We 
Germans can drive Satan from his inferno if we get united." 
Even if this be so, the solidity of their national unity, like that 
of any other people, is determined by the degree of the inner 
harmony or unity of the average individual, and in particular, 
by the inner harmony or unity possessed by leaders. Is it to be 
found and can it abide for a long period of time in worldly 
"totalitarianism" ? 

Is it not rather to be expected that the other and powerful 
part of the German soul, the yearning for the otherworldly 
or the infinite, will sooner or later demand its own? At the 
present time the German seeks for the Holy Grail in the 
totalitarian drive toward the totalitarian ends of an earth- 
chained totalitarian State. Next he will, in all probability, 
as he did more than once in the past ages, return to the whole- 
hearted pursuance of the infinite and its truth. 

Fatefully, while pursuing his ideal of perfect, monistic 
happiness made of a "one-piece" world, in turn earthly and 
heavenly, the German changes the history not only of his own 
land but of Europe and the world at large. Oscillating be- 
tween the immanent and the transcendent, between "totali- 

1 Koeltz, L., op. dt., pp. 160 f. 

2 Wireless to the New York Times, August 9, 1936. 



GERMAN IMPETUS AND ITS SURPRISES 497 

tarianism" and "infinitism," the German shows himself al- 
ternately stronger than the strongest and weaker than the 
previous manifestation of his strength would make conceiv- 
able. At present he is impetuously totalitarian and worldly 
strong. 

Is this present epoch to culminate in events showing that 
National Socialism was an "enterprise carried through for 
the realization of impulses already spent"? * Or is the Third 
Reich, before its sunset, going to pass through the stage similar, 
for example, to the culminating phase of the first totalitarian 
epoch of German history, the epoch of migration of peoples? 
In the words of Professor Kuno Francke, that was 

"the time of colossal political expansion, of radical change 
in customs, morals, and faith; the time animated with 
gigantic passion, blind driving power, and ruthless force. 
Mighty personalities and vehement deeds held the people 
spellbound. It was as if Germanism were swelling up 
from its innermost sources; as if its innermost being, its 
inner urge, its greatness, its vices, the blessings and curse 
with which it was fraught, in short, its fate came through 
a shattering explosion to a blinding self-revelation." 2 

Or will the Third Reich find its political end somewhat in 
the manner of Goethe's butterfly will it not prove after all a 
fragile butterfly, even though a huge one, flying super-bombers 
and Zeppelins armed with Krupp cannons? Will its political 
and military might not be consumed some day in the totali- 
tarian flame, produced by the immeasured impetus of flight 

1 Johnson, A., 'The International House of Cards," Yale Review, Spring, 
1936, p. 442. . 

2 Francke, K., Die Kulturwerte der deutschen Literatur in threr 
geschichtlichen Entwicfyung, Berlin, Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1910, 
B. I, SS. 18 f. 



THE GERMAN MIND 

toward the Endreich, which conflagration will inflict severe 
burns not alone to the Third Reich? 

Or, more desirable from the point of view of not only the 
world at large but also the true interests of the German peo- 
ple itself, will the harsh totalitarian forms of the Third Realm 
mellow down into a synthesis political, economic, and moral, 
a civilization of harmony in which God and all men of good 
will, at home and abroad, will be given rightful considera- 
tion? 

While the future conceals from us the ultimate issue of the 
Third Reich it is well to meditate the following thought of 
Professor H. Oncken, an outstanding German historian: 

"Each fundamental change in the structure of the Ger- 
man State shapes, by repercussion, also the situation in 
Central Europe. German political changes, therefore, 
have been more far-reaching in their international signifi- 
cance than those that take place in any other European 
land. Their influence, at times more negative than posi- 
tive and vice versa, has marked new epochs not only of 
German but of European history." * 

1 "Deutsche Vergangenheit und die deutsche Zukunft," Uunchner Uni* 
versitatsreden, Munchen, Max Hueber Verlag, 1926, S. xi. 



SELECTED INDEX 



Alain Fournier. 189, 297 

American fighting power appraised by 
Admirals Tirpitz and Capelle, 
485 

Amiel, H. F., 132 
on the English gentleman, 52 ff. 
on the French "grand style" in 
drama, 227, 286 

Anderson, S., 297 f. 

Anglo-Israel Identity Society, an ex- 
ample of English political 
mysticism, 40 ff. 

Anti-intellectualism. Sec English, Ger- 
man anti-intellectualism 

Apollonianism. See also German Apol- 

lonianism 

as a mental trait, 339 ff., 439 
contrasted with Dionysianism, 340 

Aristotle, 10 

Arndt, E. M., 408 

Arnold, M., 66 

Bacon, F. t 130 
Baldwin, Earl S., 28 
Balfour, P., 51, 125, 313 
Banse, E., on the study of national 
psychology, 479 f. (footnote) 



Bardoux, J., 94 

Barres, M., 266, 379 

Baumann, E., 297 

Bazin, R., 290 

Beaumarchais' rationalistic manifesto, 

Bel esprit defined, 193 

Bellairs, C. t on Battle of Jutland, 164 f. 

Belloc, H., 157 

Benda, J., his political mysticism, 

268 ff. 
Bergson, H., 237 

on intellectual discipline in French 

education, 196 f. 

French political mysticism, 270 f . 
Bernanos, G., 297 
Bethmann-Hollweg, T., 421 
Bibesco, M. L., Princess, 217 
Bismarck, 375, 408, 41*, 415, 4*8, 469, 

479, 496 
Bismarckian Reich, the, 375; 4<>8, 411* 

415, 486 

Blondel, M., 293 
Bohemianism, English aversion to, 59 f - 



Bollaert, E., 279 
Bouisson, E.-F., 275 
Bourgeois, L., 229 
Bourget, P., 288 f. 
Briand, A., 470 
on German political gregariousness, 

3S3 

British, the. See English, Englishman 
Brunot, F., on the genesis of French 

language, 200 

Buat, E.-A.-L., on Ludendorff's "mono- 
lithic" personality, 371, 488 f. 
Buchan, J. E., 82 

on English idea of comfort, 17 f. 
Biilow, Prince B. von, 228, 272 
Burte, H. 

influence on the German youth move- 
ment, 361, 440 
a necromantic writer, 361 

Cafe, the, as a French f rationalistic na- 
tional institution, 220 ff. 
Capelle, E., on American fighting 

power, 485 
Carlyle, T., 66 
Cartesianism 
excesses of, in French national life, 

230 

manifested in Joffre's strategy, 192 
Gather, W., 211 

Caulaincourt, A.-A.-L., de, 327 f. 
Cecil, Lord R., 148 
Chadourne, L., 297 
Chamberlain, H. S., 401 f., 458 

his racial theory, 3941 433 
Chanson de Roland 
analyzed by Gaston Paris, 199 
its rationalistic scale of values, 188 
its reflection of French attitude 

toward nature, 2x0 

Chansons de geste analyzed by Gustave 
Lanson, 199 f* 

on the philosophy of the English con- 
ception of comfort, 16 
Churchill, W., 156, 158 f., 165 ff., 247 
analysis of Joffre's strategy, 304 f. 
on the Battle of the Marne, 305, 

''circulation of the elite" 
a social lubricant, 1x6 



499 



500 



"Circulation of the elite" (Cont.) 
and English acceptance of hierarchy, 

usf. 

Clausewitz, K., 301, 372 

Clemenceau, G., 85, 181, 230 
an example of coexistence of agnos- 
ticism and political mysticism, 
273 ff. 
his political mysticism, 279 ff. 

Cocteau, J., 297 

Coleridge, S. T., 99 

Communism. See Marxism 

Conrad, J., 94 

Cousin, V., 293 

Creighton, B., 155 

Cromwell, 0., 142 

Gushing, H., 78, 3^4, 33*, 477 (foot- 
note) 

Debeney, M.-E., opposition to the re- 
cent Speed doctrine, 249 
Defoe, D., 3, 113 
De Lignac, X., 333 
Descartes, 237, 266 
a representative French philosopher, 

182 

an example of coexistence of ration- 
alism and traditionalism, 261 
"Dialectics" of lie German mind de- 
scribed, 339, 359 f., 4<H #., 
413 ff., 418 ff., 427 f<, 442, 
465, 470 
Dibelius, W., on ^ English interest in 

personalities, 28 f . 
Dickens, C., 100 
Dionysianism. See also German Dio- 

nysianism 
as a mental trait, 339 ff., 439, 458, 

472 

contrasted with Apollonianism, 340 f. 
Diplomacy. See English, German di- 
plomacy 
Disraeli, B., 34 

on English conservatism, 82 
Dixon, W. M. 
on the English gentleman's code of 

honor, 51 f. 

on the Englishman as an "incompre- 
hensible being," 5 
on the moral goal of English art, 30 
Doctrinarianism, 243-251 

its influence on French military af- 
fairs, 247 ff. 
its role in French public life, 243- 

251 

Doumer, P., 204 
Douxnic, R., 191, 315 
Dubail, A.-Y.-E., 211 
on the working of System D in the 
World War, 320 

Eckhart, Meister, 343, 396, 437 
Edward VIII, 105 
Eliot, G., 93 



SELECTED INDEX 



Eloquence, its role in French public 

life, 225-230 
Emerson, R. W., 3, 74 
Endreich (the German world empire), 
418, 419, 4*7 f-, 433, 458, 498 
English 

acceptance of hierarchy, 115-128 
harmony with fundamental rights 

and liberties, 123 f. 
manifestations of, 115 ff . 
negative aspects of, 126 
positive aspects of, i22ff. 
role in political harmony, i22f. 
unobstructive to the ascendancy of 

the middle class, 120 f. 
adoration of the Crown, 103 f. 
anti-intellectualism 
aversion to mental experimenta- 

tion, I72f. 
displayed during the World War, 



manifested in unpreparedness, 

i58ff. 

neutral aspects of, i37ff. 
positive aspects of, i32ff. 
art of compromise, 83-91 
a manifestation of the English 
sense of economy of action, 83 
a source of national strength, 84 
reflected in English political equi- 

librium, 85, 88 f. 
aversion ^ to absolute equality 
a manifestation of the English ac- 
ceptance of hierarchy, xi7ff. 
a safeguard against social revolu- 

tion, 117 

reflected in literature, n8. 
"chosen-people" doctrine, 35 
as reformulated by Kipling and 

Inge, 43 

as stated by Milton, 37 f. 
conservatism, 73-83 
a popular English attitude, 79, 81 
a source of national strength, 74 f. 
an element in the English sense of 

economy of action, 74 
illustrated in the English concep- 

tion of radicalism, 80 
illustrated in epitaphs, 76 
manifested in the English appreci- 

ation of continuity, 74 f . 
in respect for law and order, 

80 f. 

in fondness for the durable, 75 
in respect for steadiness, 75 f. 
in the habit of "muddling 

through," 77 

negative aspects of, 82 f . 
vs. political radicalism, 81 
diplomacy, subject to double standard 

of judgment, 69 f. 
emotional control, 91-114 
cause of emotional impoverish- 
ment, no 



SELECTED INDEX 



501 



English, emotional control (Cont.) 

cause of inclination to hypocrisy, 
113 f. 

compensated for through adoration 
of the Crown, 103 f., no 

compensated for through sports, 
i os f* 

contrasted with French natural- 
ness, 115 f. 

during the World War, 97 f. 

externalized through humor, 98 f. 

manifestation of the English sense 
of economy of action, 91, 97 

reflected in English community 

reflected in placidity of English 

countenance, 92 
reflected in restrained language, 

94 f. 
relation to English attitude toward 

music, i o i 
result of training, 93 
emotional impoverishment, a negative 

aspect of emotional control, 

no 
emphasis on character, 9, 23. 28, 32, 

6 4 

evidenced by literary preferences, 
too 

in public men, 31 f. 
emphasis on athletics, games, and 
sports, 23-32 

a character-building influence, 23 f . 

a compensation for emotional con- 
trol, 102 f. 

athletic activities during the 
World War, 23 

British approval of Foch, 27 

in biographical literature, 2$ 

popular interest, 26 
fair play, 64-71 . 

an element in the conception of 
good character, 64 

manifested in legal justice, 64 

manifested in national politics, 64 

manifested in social justice, 64 f - 

slow growth of, 66 

vitiated by double standard of 

judgment, 69 f* 
fundamental liberties exempt from 

compromise, 90 
gentleman, the, 46*63 

his conformity, 50 

his conservatism, 60 f . 

his gravitas, 54 # 

his patriotism, 50 

his pietas, 49 f . 

his respect for religion, 51 

his respect for tradition, 50 

origin and development of the con- 
cept, 46 ff. 
, habit of "muddling through" 

in the economic field, 78 

in military matters, 78 f., 



English (Cont.) 

hierarchy, popular acceptance of, 115. 
humor, 32 f . 

a character-building influence, 32 
contrasted with the French, 32 f. 
externalization of emotional con- 

trol, 98 f. 
illustrated, 98 f. 
idea of comfort 
emphasis on solid and massive 

things, 14 

in the World War, 14*"., 17 
manifested in English architecture 

of the Renaissance, 22 
manifested in national indifference 

to the cuisine ; 17, 19 ff- 
manifested in temperance of the 

aristocracy, 22 
individualism 
in English political harmony, 

I24ff. 

nature of, 124 f. 
interest in character study, 28-32 < 

as an influence in character-build- 
ing, 28 

preference for biography, 29 f . 

relation to moral tone of English 

art, 30 f. 

literary preferences, 29 f ., 100 
national type 

defined, 5 f . f ., 

illustrated by the Hemes family, 7 

its persistent continuity, 7f. 
political equilibrium 

aided by compromise, 85^ 

borrowings from oppositions pro- 
gram and ideas, 87 f. 

effected through sound individual- 
ism, 124 ff. 

latitude in party affiliation, 85 f . 
political mysticism, 33-45 , 

and the "chosen-people" doctrine, 

exemplified in the Anglo-Israel 
Identity Society, 40 f. 

illustrated by H. G. W^^.^S . 
postwar international crises in rela- 
tion to anti-intellectualism, 



- 

reverence for the Crown 
a manifestation of acceptance of 

hierarchy, 115 _ 

an aid to social unity, 1041. 
illustrated, io6ff. 
in relation to royal embourgeoise- 

ment, 121 f. 

resistance to adverse forces, 9-22 
an element in the conception ot 



good character, 10 
nifeste 



manifested in 

devotion to "good form, lit. 
horticultural preferences, 12 
idea of comfort, 13*1. 
social crises, u 



502 



SELECTED INDEX 



English (Cont.) 

respect for aristocracy, 115 
a manifestation of English prac- 
tical sense, i z 9 f . 
sense of the economy of action 
a form of anti-intellectualism, 

148 f. 
manifested in 

acceptance of hierarchy, 114 
art of compromise, 83 
emotional control, 91 f. 
political development, 139 
sense of hierarchy, 114-128 
a safeguard for democracy, 114! 
defined, 115 

skepticism of theory, 139, 148 f., 161 
social progress, as moving equili- 
brium, 83 
utilitarianism 
a characteristic of the national 

mind, 129 

as positive anti-intellectualism, 132 
check on excessive intellectualism, 

132! 

reflected in history of English phi- 
losophy, 130 

reflected in indifference to the 
abstract in science and art, 
135 

roots of, 129 f. 
Englishman, the 

as a mature man of action, 73-128 
his anti-intellectualism, 129-178 
his Conception of good character, 9- 

22, 46, 64 
his conception of the "good man," 3- 

7i 
his emphasis on character-building, 

23 ff., 28 ff., 32 f. 
Erasmus, 134 

Ethnic-psychological groups defined, 4 
Ethnological memoirs, value in training 

for leadership, 5 
Eschenhagen, G. 

a representative necromantic expo- 
nent of German political mys- 
ticism, 437 ff. 

on the "mysticism of blood," 396 
Examinations favored by the French, 
195 

First Reich (First Realm), the, 405, 

413 f-, 415, 486 
Fitche 

a prophet of national heroism, 446 f . 
Addresses to the German Nation, 

447 f- 

his racial theory, 394, 408 
Foch, F., 27, 124, 477 f., 489, 494 
his political mysticism, 276 ff. 
his strategy free from servitude to 
System C, 311 f. 



Foch, F. (Cont.) 
on the qualifications of a military 

commander, 188 
Formulas 

French fondness for, 230 f. 
in French philosophy, 237 
influence on French public life, 

234 ff. 
France 

as a personality, 268 
her vitality, 33 1 ff. 
France, A., 290 

an example of coexistence of rational- 
ism and traditionalism, 262 ff. 
his political mysticism, 280 f . 
his skepticism unfashionable, 294 f. 
Francke, K., 386 f., 497 
Franc.on, M., 295 f. 
Frederick the Great, 408, 418 f. 
French Academy, the 
an expression of French rationalism, 

20 z 
controversy relative to the Academy's 

French grammar, 204 
dictionary of the French language, 

202 

grammar of the French language, 204 
the guardian of the French language, 

201 ff. 
French 

attitude toward nature, 208 ff. 
cuisine as an expression of French 

rationalism, 21 z ff. 
fashion in dress 
ascendancy in, its roots in French 

rationalism, 2z6 f. 
influenced by rationalism, 216 f. 
fondness for definitions, 225 f . 
fondness for eloquence and rhetoric, 

226 ff. 
language 

causes and history of its inter- 
national ascendancy, 305 f. 
French love for, 200 ff. 
political mysticism, 266-296 
expressed in historic patriotic slo- 
gans, 270 
personification of abstract ideas its 

primary characteristic, 267 
political parties, vagueness of their 

names, 246 
popular taste for literary correctness 

and elegance, 203 f . 
press, the, reflects popular interest in 

literary problems, 204 
rationalism 
analyzed by Gustave Lanson, 183- 

z86, 199 
in the attitude toward animals and 

fellow men, 217 f. 
its true nature, 181-194 
reflected in French folklore, 109 



SELECTED INDEX 



French (Cont.) 
rationalist, the 
as a political being, 225-333 
his conception of talent, 227 
his conservatism, 255 ff. 
his "geometrical" conception of 

the State, 251 ff. 
his instinct for conservatism, 

220 ff. 

his sociability, 208-224 
respect for the intellectual aristoc- 
racy, 289 f . 

revolutionary temperament, moder- 
ated and corrected by rational- 
istic conservatism and skep- 
ticism, 255-266 
salon, the, 21 8 if. 
State, the 

high degree of centralization, 25 x f . 
the historical and psychological 
causes of its centralization, 
251 

the role of bureaucracy in it, 252 f. 
System C 
defined, 298 

in the World War, 301 ff. 
influence upon national affairs, 

civic and military, 299 ff. 
rationalistic excessive desire for 

intellectual certainty, 298 ff. 
System D 
defined, 298, 315 
in Napoleon's Russian campaign, 

in the 2 World War, 315 ff. 
influence upon military affairs, 

315 ff. 

positive aspects of, 328 ff. 
role in the national life, 3156*. 
war memoirs, indifference to the 
emotional suggestions of na- 
ture, 210 f, 
woman, the 

her conservatism a stabilizing in- 
fluence, 258 f. 

her contribution to French civili- 
zation, 2l8ff. 
FUhrer, the. See Hitler, A. 

Galiffet, Marquis de, on illogical for- 
eign idioms, 207 

Gallieni, J.-S., 482 f. 

Galsworthy, J., 93, 101 

Gambetta, L., 228, 230 

Geometrical State, 251-255 

George V, his code for the English- 
man, 71 

anti-intellectualism 
a Dionysian trait, 356 ff. 
influenced by fear of inner discord, 
355 f. 

Apollonianisxn, 339&y 439 



503 

German (Cont.) 

attitude toward work, 369 f ., 473 
aversion to detached analysis, its po- 
litical significance, 350 f . 
diplomacy adversely influenced by 
German impetus, 474, 475-481 
Dionysianism, 339 ff., 439, 458, 472 
fraternization with nature, 342 ff. 
a political factor, 344 f. 
in time of war, 346 ff. 
reflected in war memoirs, 346 ff. 
heroism cult, 439-463 
an escape from conflict between 
"infinitism" and "totalitarian- 
ism," 451 f. 

idealism and materialism, their his- 
torical "dialectical" alterna- 
tions, 359 f* 
impetus (Ungest&m, Urgewaltigheit, 

Wtocht), 430, 432, 465, 467 
adverse influence on diplomacy, 

474,47S-48i 
exemplified in Bismarck and 

Stresemann, 469 f. 
influence on diction, sentence 
structure, and conversation, 
466 
influence on German strategy in 

the World War, 481-495 
reflected in the NibelungenKed, 

470 f. 

roots in a union of "totalitarian- 
ism" and "infinitism," 431 f 
surprises. See Surprises of Ger- 
man impetus 
vs. judgment, 474-498 
"infinitism." See also "Infinitism" 
defined, 339> 404 ff. . . 
expressed in fraternization with 

nature, 343 

historic alternations with "totali- 
tarianism," 404 ff., 413 ff 
427 f., 442, 465, 470, 495 
"interregnum," 420 
political mysticism, 398, 43*-439, 457 

its Dionysian nature, 45.7 
romanticism, as a Dionysian revolt 

against rationalism, 356 ff. 
strategy in the World War adversely 
influenced by German im- 
petus, 48i-495 
superman ideal, 370 f. 
"totalitarianism." See also "Totali- 
tarianism" 
a danger to national interests of 

Germany, 380 f. 

historic alternations with "infini- 
tism," 404 ff., 413^-, 4*7 ft 
442, 465, 470, 495 
its role in the continuance of the 

Nazi regime, 378 ff. 
its role in the downfall of German 
liberalism, 375 



504 



SELECTED INDEX 



German, . "totalitarianism" (Cont.) 

party politics bewildering to the 

German, 351 . 
youth movement 
a necromantic development, 360 ff., 

440, 458 

an antecedent of the Nazi Revo- 
lution, 363 ff., 437 ff., 455 f. 
Germany of Potsdam, 419 f. 
Gheon, H., 297 
Gide, A., 187, 287 
Giraudoux, J., 297 
Gladstone, W. E., 40 
Gobineau, G., his racial theory, 394 
Goebbels, P. J., 400, 472 
Goethe, 114 
a universalist, 409 
communion with nature, 342, 344 
definition of freedom, 380 
fondness for Faust in French, 198 
heroic conception of life, 448 
on French art of expression and in- 
tellectual polish, 198 
on Moliere, 198 
on Voltaire, 199 

symbolism of his poems, "Blissful 
Nostalgia" and "Discord" 
(Zwiespalf), 450, 468 
Goltz, C., 472 
Gorce, M.-M., 266 
Gravitas 
a curb on postwar fermentation in 

England, 58 f. 
an element in the English concept of 

the gentleman, 54 

as a restraint on intellectual radical- 
ism^ 54 ff. 
Guynemer, G., 210, 267 

Hajg, Earl D 25, 96 

Hal6vy, L., 256 

Hamelin, O., 292 

Hamilton, Sir W., 407 

Hanotaux, G., his political mysticism, 

268 
Hegel 

his conception of Kulturstaat, 386, 
408 

his political philosophy contrasted 

S* J ' S ' Mill ' s ' 373 ' 
Heiden, K., 425 

Herriot, E., 203 

his rationalistic theory of human 
grandeur and harmony, 187 f, 
Hertzberg, Count E., 394 
Hetzendorff, J. F., 485 
Hindenburg, P. von, 421 f., 476, 490 
a minnesinger element in his wat 

memoirs, 345 f . 

his "monolithic" character, 371 
Hitler, A. (the Fuhrer), 397, 400, 403, 

424, 4^6, 463, 473 f-, 489 
a Dionysian political leader, 342 ff., 
372 



Hitler, A. (the Fiihrer) (Cont.) 

a "Midsummer night temperament," 
363 

a necromantic Dionysian personality, 
363, 432 ff 

a prophet of German national hero- 
ism, 453 *-, 456 

a totalitarian crusader against "half- 
ness," 365 

as the "German Joan of Arc," 352 

his conception of popular refer- 
endum, 379 

his oratory, 385, 432 f. 

on personality, 381 

the Dionysian foundation of his dic- 
tatorship, 372, 377 ff., 385 f., 
392 f., 423 

the "Drummer" of the Third Reich, 
43' f- 

the "miracle of Hitler," 385, 427 ff., 
43i f-, 459 ff. 

the "monolithic" aspects of his per- 
sonality, 371 f-, 384 f. 
Hoare, Sir S., 28 
Hugo, V. 

on the suggestive surprises of Ger- 
man music, 469 

voices French political mysticism, 

272 
Huxley, A., 135 

on English snobs, 126 
Huxley, J. S., and Haddon, A. S., on 
the ethnic vs. biological con- 
ception of nationality, 4 
Huxley, T. H., 135 

Imperialism defined, 33 f. 
"Infinitism," 339, 343, 404 ff., 413 ff., 

427 f., 442, 465, 470, 495 
Inge, Dean, 137 

Intellectual brilliancy prerequisite for 
public leadership in France, 
195 f. 

Intellectual discipline 
a great human value, igof. 
an instrument of rationalism, i94ff. 
French aviation heroes praised for it, 

principal objective of French educa- 
tion, ig6f. 

promoted by the French family and 
school, 190 

James, W. 

on English emotional impoverish- 
ment, 1 1 1 f . 

on the German professor, 370 
Jellicoe, Earl J., 160, 164 
Joad, C. E. M., 62 
Joffre, J., 181, 214, 239, 301, 483 
an example of the working of French 

System C, 301 ff. 

disappointment with his generals on 
the field of battle, 241 ff. 



SELECTED INDEX 



505 



Joffre, J. (Cont.) 

Cartesian method of his strategy, 

191 f. 

Marne battle order, 234 
on the adverse influence of military 

doctrinarianism, 248 f . 
Johnson, A., 61 
Joyce, J., 59 
Jugendbewcgung. See German youth 

movement 
Junger, E., 425 
Jutland, Battle of, 161 ff. 

Kaiser, the. See William II 
Kant 

a teacher of heroism, 444 f . 

his philosophy of history, 444 f- 

the Dionysian evolution of his phi- 

losophy 357 ff. 
Kessler, Count H., 451, 469 
Keyes, Sir R., 168 

Keyserling, H., Count, 384 f., 452 f. 
(footnote) 

on English community life, 93 f. 
Kipling, R., on English fondness for 

the durable, 75 
Kitchener, Earl H., 301 
Klopstock, F., 408 
Kluck, A., 483, 494 
Krieck, E., 368 

on national heroic realism, 456 f. 
Kuhl, H. von, 192, 484, 486 

on Joffre's strategy in the Battle of 
the Somme, 306 f. 

La Bruyere, his literary art typical of 
the standards of French liter- 
ature, 208 

La Fontaine, 290 
on the value of ban sens, 189 

Lalande, A., 293 

Lanrezac, C., 239 ff. 

Lanson, G., his analysis of French ra- 
tionalism, 183-186, 199 

Lawrence, D. H., 118 

Lawrence, T. E., 471 

Lesseps, F. de, 299 

Ley, R., 398 . 

Liberalism, its overthrow in Germany, 

459 ff- 
Lichenberger, H., on Goethe's heroic 

conception of life, 449 f- 
Livet, C.-L., 218 
Lloyd George, 79, 170 
Locke, 130 . . 

Louis-Philippe on English emotional 

impoverishment, in 
Lowell, A. L., 138 
on the influence of doctrinarianism 

upon French public life, 244 f . 
on the English art of compromise, 



Ludendorff, E., 310, $12, 322, 371, 
418, 4*1 f., 476, 486, 488 



Ludendorff, E. (Cont.) 

a neopagan, 402 

a prophet of the "total war," 372 f. 
Lyautey, L.-H.-G., his political mysti- 
cism, 279 if. 
Lyly, J., on English superiority, 36 f. 

Macaulay, E., 10, 30 [40 

MacDonald, R., his political mysticism, 
Macmurray, J., on the failure of com- 
munism in England, 63 
Mac Orlan, P., 297 
Madariaga, S., 32 
Maine de Biran, 237, 292 f. 
Malebranche, 289, 292 
Mangin, C., on German devotion to 

work, 370 

Marne, Battle of the, 191 f., 234 
Marxism (communism), 369, 426, 

431 f., 462 

a factor in the Nazi movement, 364 
Mauriac, F., 297 
Max, Prince of Baden, 476 
Meissner, P. von, 62 
Meredith, G., 56 
Metaphysical faith, its revival in 

France, 295 S. 
Michaelis, G., 421 
Michelet on France as a personality, 

268 

Mill, J. S. 

his political philosophy contrasted 
with Hegel's and Nietzsche's, 
373 f- 

on French sociability, 223 
Milton, J., the "chosen-people" doctrine, 

"Miracle 3 oV Hitler." See Hitler, A. 
Mittenburg, W. von, his analysis of the 

Ftihrer's oratory, 385 
Moliere, 289 f. 

his art analyzed by Goethe, 198 
his rationalistic conception of the 

destiny of man, 227 
on preciosity, 200 

Moeller van der Bruck, A., 418, 433 
Moltke, H. von, 306, 485, 492 f ., 495 
Montague, E v on revolutionalism and 
conservatism in the French 
mind, 265 f. 
Montaigne, 253 
1 an example of harmony between 

reason and faith, 260 f . 
Montesquieu 

his attitude toward nature, 209 
on English emotional impoverish- 
ment, no f. 

Moore, J., on French flattery, 193 f. 
Mordacq, J.-J.-H., 274, 278, 290 

on German political credulity, 353 f . 
"Muddling through," a negative aspect 

of English conservatism, 77 
Muller-Freienfels, R., on German 
national discipline, 378 



5 o6 



SELECTED INDEX 



Musset, A., 290 
Mystical impoverishment 

as a cause of decadence, 284 ff v 
290 f. 

of the rationalist, 284, 286 fF. 



&fl7 &,. 409 , . . 

legal justice, 



Napoleon I, 309, 
his tribute to 

65 

on English political mysticism, 39 
Napoleon III, 235 

National psychology vs. biological in- 
heritance, 4, i 8 i f. 
National Socialism (Nazism) 
a drive toward the German world 

empire. 5>e Endreich 
a form of political mysticism, 431, 

436 ff., 457 

an attempt toward unity between 
nationalism and socialism, 
367 f. 

as a philosophy of life, 384 f. 
as "infinitism" in the service of "to- 
talitarianism," 4isff., 427 ff., 
443 

neopagamsm, 402 f . 
neoromanticism, 360 ff., 437ff, 463 
opposition to Christianity, 397 ff. 
opposition to democracy, 457 
the culminating period of a totali- 
tarian epoch, 415, 497 
National Socialist triad of soldier, 

peasant, worker, 455 f. 
Nazism. See National Socialism, Hit- 
ler, A. 

Necker, Madame de, 219 f. 
Nevinson, W. H., 80, 133 
Nibelungenlied, 404, 467, 470 
Niebuhr, R., on double standard of 

judgment, 70 
Nietzsche, 444 

a prophet of German heroism, 451 
his political philosophy contrasted 

with J. S. Mill's, 373 f. 
his racialism, 456 

on German national character, 337 
on German temperament, 353, 465 
Nihilism, English aversion to, 59 
Nivelle, R.-G., 156 
an example of the working of French 

System C, 308 f. 
Norlin, G., 436 
Novalis, 124 
November Revolution (German), 420 f. 

Ogg, A. F., on social injustice in Eng- 
land during the Industrial 
Revolution, 66 f. 

Ollivier, E., 237 f. 

Oncken, H., 498 

O'Rell, M., 41 *., 86 
on English art of compromise and 
political hypocrisy, 84 



O'Rell, M. (Cont.) 
on English humor, 33 
on English love of liberty, 90 f. 

Oxford movement, the, opposition to 
postwar skepticism, 62 

Page, W., 169 
Paliard, J., 293 

Paris, G., on the rationalistic virtues 

of French epic poetry, 199 f. 

Pascal's relationistic idea of the worth 

of man, 187 
Peguy, C., 266 
Petain, H.-P.-O., 225 f. 
Pierrefeu, J., 309 

on doctrinarianism among the French 
military during the World 
War, 251 f. 

on rhetoric in French military af- 
fairs, 231 ff. 
on System D in the World War, 

322 ff., 326 f. 
Pietas, 49 
Pitt, W., 39 
Poincare, H., 281 

his definition of man, 186 
Poincare, R., 22, 213, 218, 229, 230, 

280, 305, 476 
his formula for French diplomacy, 

236 

his political mysticism, 281 ff. 
Political mysticism. See also English, 
French, German political mys- 
ticism 

as a clue to the national mind, 35 
summary of English, French, and 

German, 35 

Pompadour, Madame de, 189 
Postwar rationalism 
in England, 57 ff. 
in Germany, 364 
Power of expression as an instrument 

of rationalism, 196 f. 
Precio$it& as a defect implied in a 

rationalistic virtue, 200 f. 
Prevost, J., 23 
Priestley, J. B., 12 

his political mysticism, 44 
Proudhon, P.-J., 235 
Prudhomme, S., his relationalistic 

recipe for greatness, 186 
Prussia 

its characterization by the Nazi, 377 
the standard-bearer of German po- 
litical mysticism, 435 

Rabelais, 287 

Racialism, 354 f., 382, 393 ff., 433 ff., 

456 

Rationalism 

as a national trait, defined, 182 
its possible compatability with faith 
and tradition, 259 f. 



SELECTED INDEX 



507 



Rationalism (Cont.} 
resulting in mystical impoverishment, 

284, 286 ff. 
Rationalist, the 
fondness for creating rather than 

realizing ideas, 298 f. 
mystical impoverishment, 284 ff. 
Rationalistic sociability, 208-224 
Ravisson-Mollien, J., 293 
Rawlinsbn, G., 26 
Raymond, ., 112 
Recouly, R., 316, 319 
Religion in the English ideal of the 

gentleman, 51 
Remarque, E., 425 
Renan, E., his attitude toward uncor- 

rected nature, 209 
Reventlow, Count E. von, 436 f. 
Rhetoric 
influence on military affairs in 

France, 231 ff. 
role in the French administration of 

justice, 227 
role in French public life, 228 if., 

238 ff. 
Richelieu 

founder of the French Academy, 201 
on the power of reason, 183 
Rivarol, A. de, Memorandum on the 
Universality of the French 
Language, 205 ff. 
Romier, L., 264 

Rosebery, Earl A., his political mys- 
ticism, 39 f. 
Rosenberg, Alfred 
an exponent of the "mysticism of 

blood/' 306 

on the freedom of personality, 382 f. 
on academic freedom, 388 f. 
on German national heroism, 454, 

473 
the interpreter of the Nazi political 

philosophy, 381 f. 
the "Philosophic Dictator" of the 

Third Reich, 400 
Rosenberg, Arthur, 421 
Rostand, E., on the Frenchman's re- 
spect for the intellectual aris- 
tocracy, i89f. 
Rouch, J., 277 
Ruprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria, 

488 f . 
Rust, B., on academic freedom, 390 ff. 

Salisbury, Marquis R., his political 

mysticism, 40 
Salon, the French, 2i8ff. 
Santayana, G. 

on compromise, 83 

on English snobs, 128 
Sauerwein, J., 291 
Scarborough, H. E., 77 

on the English ideas of comfort, 13 



Schafer, D., 486 

Scheer, Admiral von, 161 

Scheffer, P., 496 

Sforza, Count G, on English political 
mysticism, 35 f . 

Schenkendorff, G., 408 

Schiller as a universalist, 409 

Schlieffen plan, the, 490 ff. 
frustrated at the beginning of the 
World War, 49* f. 

Schirach, B. von, on freedom, 380 

Schultze-Naumburg, P., on control of 
art, 389 f. 

Second Reich (Second Realm) or Bis- 
marckian Reich, 375, 408, 
411, 415, 486 

Shakespeare on superiority of the Eng- 
lish, 37 

Shaw, G. B., 27, 56, 57, 96, 142, 144 

Sieburg, F., 412 

on the German cult of heroism, 441 
on the psychology of the Nazi move- 



*. * s 
Siegfried, A., 256 

Social revolution, the invariable factors 

of, 420 
Sorel, A., 332 
Spears, E. L. 

a witness to the working of French 
System D in the World War, 
317 ff., 329 f. 

a witness ^ to the working of French 
rationalism in French military 
affairs, 240 f . 
Spender, J. A., on French clarity of 

expression, 193 
Spengler, O. 
an exponent of German political 

mysticism, 433 ff. 

an interpreter of the political in- 
stincts of the German nation, 
374 *., 467 f. 

and German neoromanticism, 362 f. 
on German impetus, 467 
Spenl6, J. E. 

on the evolution of Kant, 3$8f. 
on Spengler, 362 f. 
Spiritualism, its revival in France, 

295 ff. 

Spranger, E., 410 f. 
Stael, Madame de 

inability to share in Schelling's ado- 
ration of nature, 210 
on Goethe's fraternization with na- 
ture, 342 
Stendhal, 288 
Streicher, J., 404 
Stresemann, G., 419, 470 
on German attitude toward political 

problems, 353 

Surprises of German impetus, 413, 415 
compatibility of impetus with dis- 
cipline, 472 ff. 



508 



SELECTED INDEX 



Surprises of German impetus (Cont.) 
exemplified in the personality of Bis- 
marck, 469 
expression in the "discipline of 

work," 473 

"formlessness" emerging into Caesar- 
ism, 467 ff. 

reflected in the Nibelungenlied, 470 f . 
Swift, J., 70 

Tacitus, 3 
Taine, H., 47, 97 

analysis of the French fondness for 

conversation, 222 f . 
comparison of French and English 

conversation, 223 f . 
criticism of Faust, 197 
on English humor, 33 
on the art of La Bruyere, 208 
Talleyrand 

on the German national character, 

337 

on partaking of rare wines, 213 
Tardieu, A., 191, 227 f. 
Taylor, H. O., 92 
Tennyson, 139^ 

on the superiority of the English, 37 
Thackeray on English snobs, 126 f. 
Thiers, A., 236, 272 
Third Reich (Third Realm), 380, 382, 
390, 393, 403, 404, 408, 415, 
431, 433, 437, 439, 443, 457, 
458, 460, 472, 497, 498 
Thomas, A., 244 
Thomson, Sir B., 69 
Tirpitz, A., on American fighting 

power, 485 

Tocqueville, A. de, on the English con- 
stitution, 138 
Togel, K., 266 
Tomazi, M. A., 144 
Totalitarian conception of political 

freedom, 380 
Totalitarian mysticism of "blood and 

soil," 305 f. 

Totalitarian state, the, 384-404 
biological control, 393 ff. 
control of culture and education. 

387 ff. 
opposition to Christian churches, 

397 ff. 
philosophical and religious controls, 

384 ff., 397 ff- 
"Totalitarianism." See also German 

"totalitarianism" 
a monistic political inclination, 373, 

375 ff., 385 f. 

defined, 339, 365, 378, 385, 404 ff. 
expressed in fraternization with na- 
ture, 343 

in vocational pursuits, 366 
its influence on economic theories 
366 f. 



"Totalitarianism" (Cont.) 

reflected in the history of German 

philosophy, 366 

"Total man," 365, 44* (footnote), 473 
Treitschke, H., his conception of Kul- 

turstaat, 386 
Trevisano, A., 153 

Vachell, H. A., 21 

Valery, P., 225, 266, 291, 467 

Vigny, A. de, his rationalistic definition 

of God, 1 86 
Vitet, L., on the French Academy, 

201 f. 

Viviani, R., 229 f. 
Voltaire, 266, 299 

an example of coexistence of ra- 
tionalism and traditionalism. 
261 f. 

his attitude toward nature, 208 f. 
his art eulogized by Goethe, 199 
on the conquests of the French lan- 
guage, 207 f. 

Wagner, R., 409, 440 
his racial views, 394 
Waldeck-Rousseau, R., 230 
Walpole, H., 7, "3 
Waugh, A., 135 
example of the English aversion to 

bqhemianism, 59 f. 
on English emotional control as a 

social lubricant, 97 
Wechsler, E., 267 

Weimar Germany 1919-1933 (Weimar 
Republic, the), 365, 374, 375, 
380, 417, 419 f. 

a political incubation period. 422 ff. 
Wellington, Duke A. W., 304 
Wells, H. G., 56, 59, 138 
on the persistence of the English 

type, 8 

on English anti-intellectualism, 157 
Wamyss, Lord W., 43, 173, 33 r 
White, R. G., 92 

on English snobs, 127 
William, Crown Prince of Germany, 

William II (the Kaiser), 377, 380, 418, 
419 

Wilson, W., 476 f. 

Wingfield-Stratford, E. 
on Shavian nihilism, 58 
on social injustice in England dur- 
ing the Industrial Revolution, 
67 f. 

Witchery of formulas, 230-238 

Woltmann, L., his racial theories, 

j 3 1 9 f *' 39S ' 4S2 ' 
Wordsworth, 39, 50 

Wycliffe, 55 
Zola, E., 288